US April retail sales down 21.6% year-on-year

US retail sales fell 21.6% in April year-on-year to $403.9bn, and declined 16.4% compared to March 2020, according to the US Census Bureau.

Total sales decreased 7.7% from February to April compared to the same period a year prior.

Online and non-store sales increased 21.2% compared to April 2019, and grew 8.4% compared to March 2020.

Health and personal-care store sales decreased 10.4% year-on-year to $26.7bn and dropped 15.2% month-over-month.

Department-store sales fell 47% year-on-year to $6.08bn and declined 28.9% month-over-month.

Every retail category, save for online, was down on a monthly basis in April. Online, grocery stores and building materials were the only categories that experienced year-on-year growth.

Retail trade association National Retail Federation chief economist Jack Kleinhenz said: “As predicted, retail sales were bad in April and lower than in March. 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 month-to-month comparisons provide little insight other than indicating that most of the economy was on lockdown. Now that we’re in mid-May, many businesses are already starting to reopen. 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 .”