July 16, 2020
Today the U.S. Census Bureau released preliminary estimates of nationwide retail sales in June 2020 and revised estimates for May 2020. (The data include both brick-and-mortar and Internet sales.)
Very Strong Growth in May and June. In May and June, U.S. retail sales made up all of the ground lost in March and April. Seasonally adjusted sales rose by 18 percent in May and 8 percent in June. As a result, sales in June 2020 were 1 percent higher than in June 2019.
June Sales Strong For Some Types of Retailers… For some types of retailers, sales in June 2020 substantially exceeded sales in June 2019. For example, sales by vehicle dealers—a major source of sales tax revenue—were up 7 percent compared to the same time last year. Although these additional sales are encouraging, they represent just a small share of the shortfall in March and April, when sales were 30 percent below the same months in 2019. These numbers suggest that the COVID-19 crisis has led many consumers to delay vehicle purchases by three months or more.
…But Weak for Others. For some types of retailers, sales in June 2020 remained far below sales in June 2019. For example, sales by bars and restaurants—another major source of sales tax revenue—were down 26 percent compared to the same time last year.