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Retail sales surge a record 17.7% in May, but coronavirus wounds still visible

Rebound in U.S. retail sales follows record drop in prior two months



Sales at U.S. retailers roared back in May as the economy started to reopen and claw its way out of what’s likely to have been the shortest and deepest recession in American history.

Retail sales jumped a record 17.7% last month, the government said Tuesday. Economists polled by MarketWatch had forecast an 8.5% increase.


Sales had tumbled by a record 14.7% in April and 8.2% in March, revised statistics show.

The rebound in sales largely reflects the loosening of restrictions on business activity after two months of stay-at-home orders to combat the coronavirus pandemic. Along with pent up consumer demand, federal tax payments to families and more generous unemployment benefits also helped stoke higher sales.


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Yet even after the rebound in May, sales were still 6% lower compared to the same month in 2019, showing the lingering damage caused by the lockdown of the economy.


Compared to a year ago, clothing stores (-63%),


Food Services (-39%),


Electronics Stores (-30%) and


Furniture Stores (-22%) were on the weak side in May as was expected with reopenings staggered across the U.S.

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