Economists' Outlook

Housing stats and analysis from NAR's research experts.

Weekly Retail Update: November 2, 2020

Consumer Spending Has Transitioned to Traditional Retail from Experiential Retail, Increasing Retail Sales

Line graph: Year Over Year Change in U.S. Retail Sales by Industry, January 2020 to September 2020

While consumers are not spending on traveling, eating out, and other retail experiences, real PCE in September reflects increased spending towards retail goods, $109.9 billion, while services saw an increase as well of $61 billion. But, the increase in services is not as it seems as it is continuing a downward trend from $444.3 billion realized in June.

Seasonally adjusted retail trade sales excluding auto and gas were up 5.9% year-over-year for the month of September and up 1.5% month-over-month basis. Omitting food services and drinking places as well results in a 4.2% increase as those figures move toward 10.1% year-over-year and 1.4% month-over-month.

So, what do these figures tell us? Consumers are continuing to shop online, feeling better about shopping in stores, but still wary of restaurants and drinking places. Goods should continue its trend, but experiential retail may not fully return until a vaccine becomes available.

The U.S. Has Lost 8,000+ Retail Stores Thus Far During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Line graph:Retail Store Closures and Openings, February 2020 to October

The U.S. has lost 8,062 retail stores year-to-date while adding 3,384. 40 retail stores shuttered between October 23 - October 30 while there were only 2 openings.

Line graph: Retail Store Closures and Openings Change From Prior Week, February 2020 to October 2020