News and Commentary

Retail Sales Jump Nearly 20% In May, Economy Shows Signs Of Resurgence
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - 2020/06/15: A shopper carries Zara shopping bags on Londons Oxford Street after the shops were allowed to reopen. (Photo by Dave Rushen/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Photo by Dave Rushen/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Retail sales had an incredible rebound in May, according to economic experts, charging up 17.7% as stores and other businesses reopened following coronavirus-related lockdowns.

The Trump administration has been touting a possible “v-shaped” economic recovery for weeks as initial unemployment claims have begun to taper off and Americans leave their homes and re-enter society for the first time following months of pandemic-related isolation. Many key economic indicators are beating expert projections, leading the White House to suggest that the American economy may be swiftly bouncing back from its sudden — but largely unavoidable — recession.

“Retail sales shattered already-lofty expectations for May as consumers freed from the coronavirus-induced lockdowns began shopping again,” CNBC reported Tuesday. “The 17.7% headline gain including food sales easily topped the record 6.7% from October 2001 — a month after the 9/11 terrorist attacks — and beat the 8% estimate from economists surveyed by Dow Jones.”

Retail sales were 16.8% higher than they were in April, and consumers, CNBC says, rushed out to purchase clothing, accessories, and sporting goods. According to “top products” lists from some of the major big-box retailers, many Americans made a beeline for stores selling items like above-ground pools, as a way of entertaining themselves and their families during a summer where many public pools and parks remain closed over coronavirus concerns.

President Donald Trump was quick to seize on the news.

“Wow! May retail sales show biggest one-month increase of ALL TIME, up 17.7%. Far bigger than projected. Looks like a BIG DAY FOR THE STOCK MARKET, AND JOBS!” he tweeted early Tuesday.

Stocks did, in fact, jump Tuesday on the retail news, per Fox Business, but also over indications that the Trump administration is considering a fourth coronavirus relief package, which could include a $1 trillion infrastructure plan as well as additional one-time payouts to American taxpayers.

“The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 818 points, or 3.2 percent, in the opening minutes of trading while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite rose 2.78 percent and 2.33 percent, respectively,” Fox Business said Tuesday. “The president’s proposal would allocate most of the money for projects like roads and bridges, but would also provide funding for 5G wireless infrastructure and rural broadband.”

Retail stocks appear to be Tuesday’s biggest winners, with Macy’s, Nordstrom, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Best Buy all seeing gains.

Experts are hopeful that the economic recovery will be swifter than expected, now that some of the first post-lockdown numbers are emerging. CNBC also reported, last week, that some stock market analysts are now confident that their coronavirus predictions were too dire, and that the economic damage from the virus was less than expected.

“It seems the damage from the nationwide lockdown was not as severe or as lasting as we feared a month ago,” one financial analyst told the network.

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