Facteus April US Retail Sales Forecast
Today, Facteus is announcing its April US Retail Sales Forecast. We are using our proprietary consumer transaction data to provide the market a forecast of the Advance Monthly Retail Trade Report (MARTS), typically published the second week of every month by the US Department of Commerce. The MARTS report has long been the bellwether indicator of the health and trajectory of the retail economy in the US, and the report is of particular importance given the current economic environment. The Facteus US Retail Sales Forecast uses the consumer transactions from a panel of 15 million monthly active cards to model the aggregate retail forecast (excluding autos) and select retail sub-categories that are found in the MARTS report. Additional information on the MARTS report can be found at www.census.gov/retail.
Aggregate Retail and Food Services Sales (ex auto sales)
Overall consumer spending only partly recovered in the second half of April from dismal levels in the first half of the month. The week of April 19 saw a particularly vigorous upswing, driven by consumers spending their stimulus checks. Still, as the month ended, consumer spending failed to return to pre-pandemic levels. For the month of April as a whole, we are forecasting a year on year decline of -9.4%, with a 90% confidence interval of ±4.5%.
Food Service Sales
The food service sector (comprised of restaurants and bars) was hit the hardest in April. Increased order takeout and delivery were not enough to offset the loss of dining-in business. The second half of the month showed a very subdued recovery as most dining locations remained closed around the country. We are forecasting a year on year decline of 40.4% for the food service sector, with a 90% confidence interval of ±4.1%.
Food and Beverage
When it became clear by mid-March that shelter-in-place orders were coming, there was a rush of panic buying in grocery stores. It was followed by a brief lull in late March as locked down citizens ate their way through their overstocked fridges. Since early April, grocery store sales have gone up again as spending on in-home dining displaced restaurant meals. We are forecasting a year on year growth of 19.0% for the sector, with a 90% confidence interval of ±5.2%.
General Merchandise Sector
The general merchandise sector, especially warehouse clubs and supercenters, come out as another winner of the pandemic lockdowns. Similar to the grocery store dynamic, early panic buying in March was followed by a slowdown in late March and early April and a rebound in the 2nd half of April. Warehouse clubs are benefiting from seeing many of their competitors closed. We are forecasting a year on year growth in April of 10.6% for the general merchandise sector, with a 90% confidence interval of ±3.8%.
Non-Store Retail Sales
There were no bigger beneficiaries of stay-at-home orders than online retailers. Their offline competitors in many categories were effectively banned from operating by government decree. The resulting massive market share shift drove year-on-year sales growth to 75.9% in April. The Census Bureau Advanced Monthly Retail reports suffer from the difficulty of applying traditional survey methods to an Internet sales channel; we have a wider confidence interval of ±10.4% for this prediction.
Building Materials and Garden Equipment
Finally, we come to a surprising beneficiary of the lockdowns. If you asked us a year ago which retail category would gain from a global pandemic, building material and gardening stores would not be on our list. And yet, ironically, working from home has led millions of Americans to examine their houses and gardens with a careful eye and they found them wanting. Starting from the middle of April, a surge of spending completely reversed their lackluster March. For the month of April, we forecast 25.4% year on year growth with a confidence interval of ±5.9%.
Facteus is a leading provider of actionable insights from financial data. The company’s data products have been gathered directly from over 1,000 financial institutions, payment companies, fintechs, and payment card programs. The company recently launched the Facteus Insight Report on Consumer Spending and Transactions (FIRST). The report provides a critical lens into consumer behaviors and economic trends derived from financial transaction data covering more than 1,600 companies and 430 publicly traded stock tickers. The report may be found at FIRST.facteus.com. Facteus’ newest product, Enlightmint, is composed of key business metrics informed by empirical card transactions and contains one of the largest consumer transaction panels, with the broadest demographic and geographic coverage available. You can learn more at www.enlightmintdata.com.