B2 High-Intermediate US 127 Folder Collection
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- [Man] Retail sales is a measure of purchases at stores,
restaurants, and online.
This type of spending is a big deal.
Although it makes up a relatively small portion of GDP,
it's an important driver of economic growth because retail
sales affect more than just retailers.
They create a ripple effect throughout the economy.
That's why analysts and economists are paying close
attention to this monthly indicator as a way to gauge
whether the economy at large is recovering.
Here's how the retail spending ripple effect works.
When consumers spend at stores,
their stores order more merchandise,
which means manufacturers produce more
and order more raw materials.
So when consumers open their wallets,
the economy tends to run smoother.
And this type of spending adds up retail sales have been
growing for decades except for a short dip
around the last recession.
Between 1992 and 2018
retail sales have almost tripled from $1.8 trillion
to 5.3 trillion.
This includes auto sales, sales at clothing retailers in
general merchandisers like department stores,
food and beverage sales, and e-commerce.
During the pandemic.
Some of these categories have struggled more than others.
Auto sales declined sharply as lockdown swept across the
country in March and April.
- The biggest component retail sales is spending on new cars
and also spending on gasoline.
Now those two categories have been really hard hit in the
coronavirus pandemic because people are not commuting.
So they're not spending on gas.
And also because there's been so much fluctuation in the
labor market, people that are sort of less inclined
to buy a new car
because they might not necessarily be sure if they're going
to have a job next month.
- [Man] Many brick and mortar clothing
retailers and department stores saw sales all but
disappear during coronavirus lockdowns.
In April spending on clothing was down
nearly 90% from the previous year.
Neiman Marcus, JC Penny and J crew,
which were all under pressure before the pandemic hit,
have recently filed for bankruptcy.
- Well, the coronavirus pandemic
took a huge hit on retail sales
purely because people was stuck at home.
You know, they had to stay in their houses
due to the due to the
spread of the virus.
So really the only areas that we saw much spending
were on food.
- [Man] Sales for food and beverages,
haven't been as deeply impacted.
While spending at bars and
restaurants has gone down,
people have been stocking up at grocery stores.
- Spending of bars and restaurants has been hit really hard.
I mean, a lot of places did manage
to continue to provide takeout
and curbside deliver and so on.
But what we did see was a big bump in March when people were
stocking up, you know,
they really wanted to fill their shelves in preparation for
the shutdowns.
- [Man] Spending online however has accelerated.
Consumers increased online purchases
in April from the same period last year,
boosting online retailers by more than 20%.
- Well every month that this the, you know,
the coronavirus has been on
we've seen a greater share of retail sales
at non store retailers.
Like for instance, amazon.com for many people,
the only option that they have
to buy certain products is to go online and spend online.
- [Man] More recently,
there have been signs that retail might be recovering.
The retail sector lost almost 2.3 million jobs in April,
but added nearly 370,000 back in may.
- And the hope is that that will continue as people kind of
start to get out and about and to,
to recover and to spend more money after the,
after the shutdowns or essentially the last phase of the
recovery will be people going back into stores, into malls,
into enclosed spaces and feeling comfortable.
- How confident consumers feel about going out and spending
money safely will help determine how quickly retail sales
might improve and ripple around the economy.
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The Economic Ripple Effect of Retail Sales, Explained WSJ

127 Folder Collection
洪子雯 published on June 25, 2020
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