Coronavirus economic updates: Retail sales plunge by record 8.7%

(NEW YORK) — The coronavirus pandemic has quickly evolved from a health care crisis to a financial one, shuttering businesses, upending industries and sending financial markets reeling.

Here’s the latest news on how the COVID-19 crisis is affecting the economy.

Here’s how the day is unfolding Wednesday:

Retail sales plummet a record 8.7% in March

Retail sales plunged a record 8.7% in March compared to the previous month, according to data released Wednesday from the Commerce Department.

The retail industry has been pummeled by the novel coronavirus pandemic, as nonessential businesses across the country have been forced to shutter. The 8.7% figure is higher than economists’ estimates, which were around 8%.

Among the hardest-hit in the retail sector were clothing and accessories stores, where sales were down more than 50% compared to this time last year.

Food and beverage sales, however, were up 28% compared to last year as many Americans are stocking up on grocery items amid stay-at-home orders.

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