By Alan Wolf, YSN

Despite a solid showing by BrandSource members, the majority of the nation’s retailers took it on the chin last month as the full effects of the COVID crisis took hold.

According to the latest monthly retail sales estimates released today by the U.S. Census Bureau, overall revenue was down 16.4 percent seasonally adjusted from March, and down 21.6 percent unadjusted year over year. The results follow March’s 8.3 percent decline from February.

Excluding auto dealers, gas stations and restaurants — key retail sectors impacted by the pandemic — April sales fell 14.1 percent seasonally adjusted from March and declined 8.7 percent unadjusted year over year.

“As predicted, retail sales were bad in April and lower than in March,” observed Jack Kleinhenz, Chief Economist for the National Retail Federation (NRF), the retail industry’s largest trade group. “This should come as no surprise since April was the first full month when most businesses not considered essential were closed, both in retail and across the economy.”

But sales are expected to pick up this month, he said, as stores reopen and states relax their shelter-in-place policies.

“Now that we’re in mid-May many businesses are already starting to reopen, Kleinhenz continued. “Relief payments and pent-up demand should provide some degree of post-shutdown rebound, but spending will be far from normal and may be choppy going forward.”

Looking ahead, the NRF economist remains optimistic. “I’m still of the opinion that we went into this with the economy on a sound footing and that we will hopefully come out of it the same,” he said.

BrandSource is a unit of YSN publisher AVB Inc.

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