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Special Report

Retail Sales Research Brief

September 2020

Retail Sales Reach New Peak as Spending Adapts in Pandemic Environment

Consumer spending growth normalizes in August. Retail sales from the U.S. Census provides a glimpse into the pace of an economic expansion without additional support from the legislative branch. Much of the stimulus provided by the CARES Act culminated at the end of July and executive action to extend unemployment benefits did not take effect until late August or early September. Even without broad federal support, retail sales still increased 0.6 percent last month to a new high. Renewed unemployment benefits that reached accounts in September could prop up national retail sales this month, though that support is unlikely to carry into the fourth quarter.

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