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Special Report

Retail Sales Research Brief

May 2021

Consumers Remain Active;
Retail Sales Well Above Pre-Recession Levels

Retail spending levels off. As the stimulus dissipated, consumer spending dipped 0.8 percent in April as shoppers stepped back from record purchasing. Year over year, core retail sales jumped 37.6 percent, though the annual comparison comes against a backdrop of broad shutdowns in April 2020. Some of the slowdown can be attributed to a wide pause in reopening policy changes last month. Moving forward, however, several modifications are on the horizon that should propel consumer spending higher. Several states are terminating federal unemployment benefits sooner than the current Sept. 6 timeline, which should help retailers staff to today’s occupancy guidelines. Additionally, the CDC lifted mask restrictions for vaccinated individuals, which will relieve some uneasiness among those still taking extra precautions to avoid contracting the virus.

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