US retail sales plunge by record 8.7% in March amid shutdown

AP News Staff
April 15, 2020 - 7:43 am

In this Thursday, March 19, 2020, photo, a pedestrian walks past a storefront for rent on Madison Avenue, in New York. Long before there was a global pandemic, brick-and-mortar retailers struggled to resonate as shoppers increasingly made their purchases online. Now, they're faced with an even more daunting task of staying on people's minds and pocketbooks in the midst of the new coronavirus. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. retail sales plummeted 8.7% in March, a record drop as the viral outbreak closed down thousands of stores and shoppers stayed home.

Sales fell sharply across many categories: Auto sales dropped 25.6%, while clothing store sales collapsed, sliding 50.5%.

U.S. consumer confidence has plunged and the vast majority of Americans are hunkered down at home under shelter in place orders.

Grocery store sales, however, jumped by nearly 26% as Americans stocked up on food and consumer goods to ride out the pandemic. A category that includes mostly online sales rose 3.1%.

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