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The latest Reuters survey of economists showed that the US consumer spending, as represented by the Retail Sales, is expected to suffer a record drop last month, in the wake of the mandatory shutdowns due to the coronavirus outbreak.  

Key findings

“Retail sales probably plunged 8.0% last month, signalling the biggest decline since the government started tracking the series in 1992. Retail sales fell 0.5% in February.

Last month’s anticipated drop in retail sales will reflect depressed receipts at car dealerships, with light vehicle sales crashing in March.

In addition, the closure of non-essential retailers probably knocked sales at clothing, sporting goods and furniture stores.

Excluding automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services, retail sales are forecast decreasing 2.0% in March, which would be the largest fall since December 2018. These so-called core retail sales were unchanged in February.

Core retail sales correspond most closely with the consumer spending component of gross domestic product.

With March’s anticipated decrease, economists are forecasting consumer spending plunging at an annualized rate of at least 5.0% in the first quarter, which would be the weakest performance since the second quarter of 1980.”