One of the trends we have been highlighting in the monthly retail sales report over the years has been the growing trend of eating out versus eating in.  For years we have seen the Bars and Restaurants category of retail sales consistently gaining share at the expense of the Food and Beverage Stores category.  Just last month, Bars and Restaurants saw their share of total sales rise to 12.46%, which was just below the record high of 12.47% from October 2018.  That total share of sales was also 0.07% greater than the share of Food and Beverage Stores (12.39%) which is also right near record highs.

The run was fun while it lasted.  With restaurants all over the country being forced to shut due to fears of the Covid-19 virus, even if American consumers wanted to go out to eat, the only way they can is by ordering takeout.  With everybody stuck at home, more Americans will undoubtedly be eating at home in the coming months, and that is going to cause the share of total sales for Bars and Restaurants to come crashing down.  The only question is whether other sectors besides Food & Beverage Stores will pick up the slack or if the pie will only get smaller as consumers reign in spending.

The trend of dining out is likely to take a hit in the coming months, but one trend that will only accelerate is ‘clicks’ over ‘bricks’.  After overtaking the category of General Merchandise in September 2018, Nonstore retailers have been picking up share at a steady pace ever since.  Through February, the current spread in share of 1.3 percentage points is not far from the record seen last September.  Again, though, with physical stores all over the country simply closing for an indefinite period in recent days, online is going to become the only option for consumers whether they can leave their homes or not.  Start a two-week free trial to Bespoke Institutional to access our interactive economic indicators monitor and much more.

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