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Forecast: steep drop in U.S. retail sales

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Grocery, health product sales expected to fare better

NEW YORK — Retail sales in the United States are expected to fall 5.1% this year, according to the data and analytics firm GlobalData, which said the projected decline will amount to more than $200 billion.

That will be a bigger drop than any other country in terms of total value, and as a percentage it will worse than all but 10 other major countries.

“The US will perform worse than a number of other countries that have also been significantly affected by COVID-19, including the UK and Germany, due to the huge number of job losses caused by the virus,” said GlobalData retail analyst Emily Salter. “But it will fare better than Spain, France and Italy as the U.S. has not enforced a full lockdown. The US retail market will perform slightly worse than neighbour Canada (-4.5%) which has also not entered a full lockdown.”

Salter added that while restrictions are starting to lift in certain states, GlobalData expects that many stores will remain closed and footfall will be severely limited through to the end of May. Non-food spend should start to recover in June but normal spending patterns will not return until at least October. And even then many consumers many consumers will not be able to resume their normal shopping habits, because of the high unemployment rate caused by the economic restrictions currently in place.

“The 5.1% drop in the market in 2020 hides contrasting fates of different sectors, with sales of food and grocery and health products increasing as consumers stockpile goods and prioritise good hygiene, as well as the stay-at-home orders leading to a shift to grocery spend from food on the go, restaurants and cafes,” Salter said. “Non-essential sectors will be hit the hardest in 2020 as consumer confidence falls, with fashion forecast to suffer significantly as consumers have no events or holidays to purchase new clothes for, and growth in the demand for loungewear cannot match this.”


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