How Coronavirus is Impacting Consumer Spending

Chart How Coronavirus is Impacting Consumer Spending

Our first glimpse at the economic impact from COVID-19 came from the labor market over the past several weeks. The March retail sales report, released this past week, gave investors an additional look at the impact on consumer spending. As expected, the report showed retail sales fell off a cliff. Even more, the Census Bureau warned that the number could be worse than reported due to sporadic reporting from the hardest-hit businesses. Subcategories tied to discretionary spending reported double-digit month-over-month declines, while businesses associated with the recent stockpiling behavior saw slight increases. As long as many non-essential businesses remain closed, we expect consumer spending data to be particularly ugly. However, once the economy reopens, some pent-up demand will surface.