COVID-19

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

Marielle Segarra Jun 16, 2020
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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
Heard on:
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

Can businesses deny you entry if you don’t have a vaccine passport?

As more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the economy begins reopening, some businesses are requiring proof of vaccination to enter their premises. The concept of a vaccine passport has raised ethical questions about data privacy and potential discrimination against the unvaccinated. However, legal experts say businesses have the right to deny entrance to those who can’t show proof.

Give me a snapshot of the labor market in the U.S.

U.S. job openings in February increased more than expected, according to the Labor Department. Also, the economy added over 900,000 jobs in March. For all of the good jobs news recently, there are still nearly 10 million people who are out of work, and more than 4 million of them have been unemployed for six months or longer. “So we still have a very long way to go until we get a full recovery,” said Elise Gould with the Economic Policy Institute. She said the industries that have the furthest to go are the ones you’d expect: “leisure and hospitality, accommodations, food services, restaurants” and the public sector, especially in education.

What do I need to know about tax season this year?

Glad you asked! We have a whole separate FAQ section on that. Some quick hits: The deadline has been extended from April 15 to May 17 for individuals. Also, millions of people received unemployment benefits in 2020 — up to $10,200 of which will now be tax-free for those with an adjusted gross income of less than $150,000. And, for those who filed before the American Rescue Plan passed, simply put, you do not need to file an amended return at the moment. Find answers to the rest of your questions here.

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