US retail sales print record drop in April

The headline print plunged below the expected fall of 12pct after March’s revised -8.3pct reading, formerly the worst since 1992. Retail sales ex. autos fell 17.2pct to miss the estimate of an 8.5pct decline.


The control group – used for GDP calculation purposes and seen by analysts as a more reliable gauge of underlying consumer demand – came in more than three times under the forecast of -5.0pct, although the prior figure was revised three-tenths higher to 2.0pct. The data shows that the slowdown continued into the first part of the second quarter, as consumers went into lockdown and layoffs began to mount.


All bar two of the 14 major categories posted a decrease. The biggest falls were seen in clothing and accessories, which amounted to an 89.3pct decline from the same period a year ago. Grocery stores and internet retailers were the only areas to report an increase in sales.