NRF Chief Economist: Recovery Likely to Come in ‘Fits and Starts’

by Alex Tostado

Washington, D.C. — The National Retail Federation’s (NRF) chief economist Jack Kleinhenz says that as some states begin reopening stores and other businesses, the national economy’s recovery will likely be a gradual process and vary by location.

“Getting back to work or shopping in a pre-virus manner is difficult to predict at this time, with households likely to tiptoe back in rather than making an immediate return to the lives they experienced before,” Kleinhenz said in the May issue of NRF’s Monthly Economic Review. “My overall impression is that the recovery will have fits and starts among states, regions and cities depending on the severity of the pandemic in their localities.”

The NRF reports that retail sales saw their worst month-over-month drop on record in March, falling 8.7 percent from February. Consumer spending fell an annualized 7.6 percent during the first quarter, the largest drop since the second quarter of 1980.

Consumer confidence hit 86.9 percent in April, the lowest since 2014, according to the Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index. Even through the decreasing confidence, Kleinhenz says most people expect to see a rapid recovery.

“The gap between opinions on current and future conditions indicates that consumers expect a V-shaped recovery as the economy reopens,” he said.

Washington, D.C.-based NRF has advocated for retailers and policies for more than 100 years.

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