HdL HeadLines calls out retail trends affecting the economy and HdL news to provide you with insight and support in your budget preparation and economic planning.


Retail Sales Surged in March

Retail sales surged in March as federal stimulus checks bolstered wallets and the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines boosted spending at stores. The Commerce Department said that retail sales soared a seasonally adjusted 9.8% in March compared with the month prior. It was the steepest increase since May last year, when the retail sector stared to rebound from the early spring shutdowns across the nation. 


From COVID-19 to Containers, Port Backups Delay Merchandise for Retailers

The surge in merchandise-laden cargo containers has hardly slowed down since retailers have continued to bring in goods to meet retail sales that grew 6.6 percent in 2020 – the largest annual gain in National Retail Federation records going back to 2002. But despite the flood of containers, not all of the merchandise is reaching retailers – or their customers – in a timely manner. Longshoremen and truck drivers have been hit with COVID-19 leaving a shortage of labor to unload ships or haul cargo away. 


The Shift to the Suburbs Predates COVID-19.  Did Retailers Miss the Signs?

 In 2020, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States sparked much talk of an "urban exodus" in which white-collar workers would flee the urban cores of the largest U.S. cities in droves for the space and relative safety of outlying suburbs and smaller cities. It is fundamental for retailers to understand that the importance of suburban consumers in the U.S. was already growing considerably even before the COVID-19 pandemic threw the country for a loop. 


How the Pandemic Helped Walmart Battle Amazon Marketplace for Sellers

Between 2009 and 2014, Walmart’s Marketplace business, where outside merchants hawk everything from baby blankets to power tools, counted no more than six sellers, and was described by one expert as “in limbo.” But what was treated as an afterthought for years has emerged as an important leg in the world’s biggest retailer’s long-term strategy to take on Amazon Inc. Walmart Marketplace grew to an estimated 70,000 sellers in 2020, fueled by a surge in online shopping due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a series of investments in technology and vendor relationships reported here for the first time. 


Mall Vacancies Jump at Fastest Pace on Record

The vacancy rate for regional malls in the U.S. reached record 11.4% in the first quarter, from 10.5% in the fourth quarter, according to Moody’s Analytics’ commercial real estate division. The 90 basis-points increase marked the highest the firm has ever seen, surpassing the record 80 basis-point spike in the first quarter of 2009, in the thick of the Great Recession.


Automakers Notch Sales Bounce a Year After COVID-19 Onset

Automakers posted higher sales in the first quarter as General Motors Co., Toyota Motor Corp. and others benefited from strong demand for new cars and trucks in comparison with a year earlier, when the spread of COVID-19 shut showrooms. U.S. auto sales surged by more than 8% in the quarter, according to analysts’ estimates. 


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