Talking Points of the Week for Financial Advisors (5/18)
May 18th, 2020
April retail sales numbers came in even worse than March’s record weakness. In the first full month of lockdowns, the result isn’t surprising, though it still came in worse than expectations and put the two-month total decline at 23%, nearly twice the decline seen in the entire global financial crisis (13%).
For some good news, non-store retailers (internet and mail-order), reported an increase of 8.4% in April for a total rise of 21.6% from last year. When we look at overall retail sales, non-store retailers account for 19.4% of overall sales, which is a new record for the category. Tobias Lütke, CEO of Shopify, the e-commerce platform which primarily serves small and midsize businesses and boasts a market cap of $91.46 billion, stated that internet commerce made ten years of progress in three months.
Consumer sentiment increased slightly in the May figures, after reporting a significant decrease in April. May’s increase was due to the survey’s respondents to feelings around current conditions, with 17% of respondents cited damages to their finances as their primary concern, while 57% of respondents cited health threats as their primary concern. Expectations of the future environment dipped by -3.4% since April’s report.
April industrial production came in slightly better than expected, though it still cratered by the most on record since 1919, dropping 13.7% compared to March, which had a 5.5% decrease. Capacity utilization, the amount of plant capabilities is in use, slid to 64.9%, the lowest since 1967.
Jobs numbers continue to be horrific, just less horrific than the week before, with the latest reading showing just shy of 3M (just shy of 2% of the U.S. labor force) applied for initial jobless claims last week, marking the 8th consecutive week of historic numbers.