Store, restaurant reopenings pushed up U.S. retail spending for the second month in a row

Retail sales increased 7.5% in June as some stores and restaurants reopened, the Commerce Department reported Thursday, but a recent rise in virus cases could again dampen spending.

The increase in retail sales for June comes on the heels of lockdowns to contain the pandemic during the spring that triggered an economic shock and record declines in retail sales and other business activity. Government stimulus, such as enhanced unemployment insurance for laid-off workers, and virus-induced shifts in spending patterns have helped propel the rebound.

Marshal Cohen, chief industry adviser at the NPD Group, Inc., a market research firm, said lower spending on experiences such as concerts and summer camp due to the pandemic has put more money in consumers’ pockets to spend on tangible items, such as televisions and gym equipment, helping drive retail-sales gains.

Still, economists say a recent surge in coronavirus cases could again put the brakes on retail spending, as states pause or reverse reopening plans for indoor dining, movie theaters and other activities. Read more at WSJ