As the COVID-19 era has vividly demonstrated, closing stores has, at best, a chilling effect on shopping.
In April — a month when, unlike March or May, most if not all nonessential retailers closed down — retail sales as measured by the U.S. Commerce Department and tracked by Retail Dive plummeted 16%. Some segments fared quite a bit worse than that. Apparel sales plunged 89%, for example, while furniture and home sales fell 67%; electronics sales fell 65% and sporting goods and hobby sales fell 46%. General merchants, which in some cases were permitted to stay open thanks to sales of essential items, saw sales fall 14%, according to the government's monthly report.. . . more