Americans are spending more money than they did at this time last year — and even last month — but the trend may slow as Covid-19 cases spike throughout the country.
According to the latest statistics from the Census Bureau, American shoppers spent $553.3 billion in October, a 0.3 percent increase from $551.9 billion in September, and 5.7 percent above the same time last year.
But the rate of growth has slowed over the past few months: Spending rose 1.6 percent between August and September 2020, and economists had expected sales to rise in October by at least 0.5 percent, according to the Wall Street Journal.
But it’s still a marked improvement over earlier this year; April retail sales hit a record low.
The report consists of a random sampling of approximately 5,500 retail and food service firms, whose sales are estimated to represent over 3 million retailers.
Online shopping continued to be incredible popular, as “nonstore” retailers — otherwise known as e-commerce — saw sales rise 29.1 percent from October 2019. Companies like Amazon launched holiday sales earlier than normal this year, which may have contributed to the spike.
Building materials and garden equipment suppliers saw sales grow 19.5 percent from last year, a trend that has persisted throughout the year. (Lowe’s and Home Depot have remained two of the most popular retailers during the pandemic.)
Other types of retailers recorded big losses: Gas stations saw sales decline 14 percent from the same time last year, and clothing stores saw a 12.6 percent decrease in sales.
While restaurants’ success varies depending on whether they’re open for indoor dining only — restrictions in many cities have decimated sales for those eateries — or offer take out, overall, food and beverage retailers saw sales drop 14.2 percent year over year.
Though general merchandise stores did better by 2.4 percent, department stores still struggle, with a 11.9 percent decrease in sales.