COVID-19

Retail sales soar 17.7% in May, although they’re still down compared to last year

Marielle Segarra Jun 16, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace Morning Report
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With lockdowns lifting, economists expected May retail sales to jump. But not by this much. Stephanie Keith/Getty Images
COVID-19

Retail sales soar 17.7% in May, although they’re still down compared to last year

Marielle Segarra Jun 16, 2020
With lockdowns lifting, economists expected May retail sales to jump. But not by this much. Stephanie Keith/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Retail sales jumped by nearly 18% in May, more than double the forecasts. The numbers give us an idea of how much the economy is bouncing back since states started lifting their lockdowns.

Eighteen percent is a huge jump. Economists were expecting sales to increase in May because that’s when states started to lift their lockdowns, but the projections were 8%.

If you dig into the numbers, clothing sales in May jumped by 188%. The context here: They’re still down compared to May of last year. For clothing sales, they’re down by 63%. Overall, retail sales are down by 6%, so consumer spending is still recovering.

But these are good numbers. Keep in mind, coronavirus cases are also growing in many states in part because people are going out. So there could be new lockdowns at some point.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

What’s the latest on the extra COVID-19 unemployment benefits?

As of now, those $600-a-week payments will stop at the end of July. For many, unemployment payments have been a lifeline, but one that is about to end, if nothing changes. The debate over whether or not to extend these benefits continues among lawmakers.

With a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases, are restaurants and bars shutting back down?

The latest jobs report shows that 4.8 million Americans went back to work in June. More than 30% of those job gains were from bars and restaurants. But those industries are in trouble again. For example, because of the steep rise in COVID-19 cases in Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, increased restrictions on restaurant capacities and closed bars. It’s created a logistical nightmare.

Which businesses got Paycheck Protection Program loans?

The numbers are in — well, at least in part. The federal government has released the names of companies that received loans of $150,000 or more through the Paycheck Protection Program.

Some of the companies people are surprised got loans include Kanye West’s fashion line, Yeezy, TGI Fridays and P.F. Chang’s. The companies you might not recognize, particularly some smaller businesses, were able to hire back staff or partially reopen thanks to the loans.

You can find answers to more questions on unemployment benefits and COVID-19 here.

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