(AP) Retail sales plunged 8.7 percent in March, marking the largest monthly decline ever as the coronavirus pandemic guts consumer spending, yanks millions out of the workforce and forces people to stay home.
The figures stand in stark comparison to February’s revised 0.4 percent decline and sent U.S. stock futures southward. Dow futures dropped 650 points, or 2.7 percent, shortly before the open. Futures of the Standard & Poor’s 500 index and Nasdaq composites were also deep in the red off the economic data.
Wednesday’s retail report offered another lens into just how quickly the outbreak seized the American economy. The drop blew past economist expectations of about 8 percent.
American consumers drive 70 percent of the country’s economy. But now, spending at restaurants, retail stores, malls and the like is essentially gone.