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U.S retail sales slow to bounce back as COVID winter approaches

(BUSINESS FINANCE) U.S. retail sales aren’t coming back as many had expected, as the nation braces for wintertime with COVID-19.

Discount signs over retail sales and clothing

To some of us, buying anything except essentials during this time seems insane. To others, who’ve been padding their savings account with money that might have otherwise been spent on going out to eat, travel, concerts, etc., shopping in retail sales has been a source of therapy.

Regardless of what side of the fence you’re on, U.S. retail sales as a whole increased less than expected in October – and, as COVID-19 hits its third wave in the States, it could slow even further. As of now, the number of national cases has surpassed 11 million.

Economists polled by Reuters predicted that retail sales in October would raise by 0.5%, though they only rose by 0.3%, according to the Commerce Department.

Pandemic-related unemployment benefits will expire at the end of the year, and it’s unlikely that Congress will agree on a second relief package before Biden takes office in January. Additionally, the federal ban on evictions will expire at the end of the year.

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To top it off, the winter is approaching meaning that many restaurants and businesses in colder states will be forced to close – and, subsequently, Americans who work at those establishments will face unemployment.

Needless to say, many Americans aren’t focused on shopping; they’re focused on surviving. Especially in states with more COVID cases, there has been a broad decline in spending through November 9th, apart from automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services.

The economy bounced back at a 33.1% rate in the late summer and early fall after contracting at 31.4% pace in the second quarter, when COVID completely sank the economy. This was the most drastic market fluxaution since the government started keeping records in 1947.

There is a strong link between households with a disposable income and spending patterns – people typically don’t spend money they don’t have, especially during a pandemic. If the U.S. wants to get the retail economy back to where it once was, it seems like additional government relief is a sure-fire way to get there.

When stimulus checks went out in April, we saw a momentary resurgence in the economy almost instantly, which was good for everyone. Until the job market allows for all of the unemployed Americans to safely get back in the game, the government needs to assist its people – the economy depends on it.

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Anaïs DerSimonian is a writer, filmmaker, and educator interested in media, culture and the arts. She is Clark University Alumni with a degree in Culture Studies and Screen Studies. She has produced various documentary and narrative projects, including a profile on an NGO in Yerevan, Armenia that provides micro-loans to cottage industries and entrepreneurs based in rural regions to help create jobs, self-sufficiency, and to stimulate the post-Soviet economy. She is currently based in Boston. Besides filmmaking, Anaïs enjoys reading good fiction and watching sketch and stand-up comedy.

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  1. Pingback: Surprise: Savings have mostly grown during the pandemic

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