March Retail Sales dropped 8.7% to the lowest read ever on record. Not surprisingly with all the store closings, sales plunged nearly 51% at clothing stores, 20% at department stores and 27% at furniture stores. Restaurants and bars also saw a 27% drop in sales, which will likely fall even more in April as many restaurants have closed but for take-out and delivery. Auto dealers were also impacted, with a 27% plunge in sales while sales at gas stations dropped 17%.
The manufacturing sector also felt the impact of the virus, as the Empire State Index (which measures manufacturing activity in the NY region) for April was reported at -78.2, much lower than expectations of -35. Meanwhile the Philadelphia Fed Index plunged to its lowest level in 40 years.