The May monthly retail sales report was released this week. One thing worth noting – for the uninitiated – is that this information is linked to sales by type of retail outlet, but that doesn’t fully align with sales of product categories in some cases. For instance, sales of sporting and recreation goods might be lower than one would expect because the data only count sales at stores that primarily sell these products and do not include items in this category that are sold at mass merchants like Walmart and Target, whose sales are classified elsewhere.
The May report show that the big winners remain:
- grocery/food retail stores
- building materials/garden equipment dealers
- retailers that operate outside of brick-and-mortar locations (including e-commerce not linked to conventional stores)
These are retailers that, for the most part, remained open during stay-at-home orders because they were considered “essential” businesses. Additionally, their product mix includes categories that continue to benefit from the shift toward staying home – e.g., home cooking over eating out and DIY home and garden improvements.
Several other categories – including furniture, gas stations, department stores, and foodservice – seem to be turning the corner at least a bit, seeing significant gains over April in light of loosening restrictions on the state level, which are allowing such businesses to reopen or expand operations. However, sales were still well below 2019 levels and remain a notable cause for concern for the economy in general.
Economists and other interested parties – including Freedonia analysts – will be closely monitoring next month’s retail sales report to see the strength of sales growth for June, looking for signs of just how many consumers returned to shop once businesses reopened.
For more information and discussion of opportunities, see The Freedonia Group’s extensive collection of off-the-shelf research, including an expanding catalog of COVID-19 Economic Impact reports, which highlight how various industries are responding to the COVID-19 with a comparison to historical recessions. Freedonia Custom Research is also available for questions requiring tailored market intelligence.