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Special Report

Retail Sales Research Brief

August 2020

Retail Sales Return to Pre-Health Crisis Levels; Stimulus in Focus


Consumers unfazed by pandemic. Shoppers drove overall retail sales up 1.2 percent in July to a new record. However, evaporating stimulus could temper or even reverse growth in August. Excluding auto and parts sales, which recorded an unexpected 4.7 percent dip month over month, retail sales advanced 1.9 percent. Despite the rise in sales, retail vacancy ticked up 20 basis points in the second quarter and further erosion is anticipated after thousands of stores announced closures due to the health crisis. Large variations in most retail sales categories have dissipated and future reports will be a more reliable barometer on consumer spending habits and the health of the economy.


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