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Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

U.S. retail sales fell 16.4% in April, even worse than the previous record fall set in March, as consumers pulled back on spending during the coronavirus economic lockdown.

Why it matters: It's another indication of how the pandemic is curtailing consumer spending, which is the main driver of the U.S. economy, as people stay home and a record number of Americans are out out work.

By the numbers: The report, which reflects a full month of state-mandated closures for businesses, is worse than the 12.3% monthly drop economists expected.

  • Strip out car sales, and April's retail figures come in at an even worse 17.2%.

Details: Except for online retailers, all retail categories — including auto dealers, furniture shops and clothing stores — suffered declines that would have been unfathomable before the coronavirus.

  • Clothing store sales collapsed 79% from March, and 89% from a year ago.
  • Food and beverage stores, a group that includes grocery stores, fell 13.1% from last month's big boost, when Americans raced to fill their pantries. That's an indication that the panic-buying has eased.
  • Yes, but: Looking at how the category did versus this time last year, it's one of the few that is faring better now in a pandemic environment. Sales are up 12% from last year.

Go deeper

Existing U.S. home sales reached another record high last month

In July, Anil Lilly tours his new home, in Washingtonville, N.Y. Photo: John Minchillo/AP

Existing-home sales jumped by 24.7% in July, the National Association of Realtors reported Saturday.

Why it matters: July's surge beats last month's record as the largest recorded monthly increase in previously owned home sales since 1968, when NAR began collecting data.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds — Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies — Federal judge blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker

Arizona governor sues Biden administration over COVID funds tied to mandates

A teacher prepares a hallway barrier to help students maintain social distancing at John B. Wright Elementary School in Tucson, Arizona, on Aug. 14, 2020. Photo: Cheney Orr/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) filed a lawsuit Friday against the Biden administration for ordering the state to stop allocating federal COVID relief funds to schools that don't comply with public health recommendations such as masking, the Arizona Republic reports.

Why it matters: The Treasury Department said last week that the state would have to pay back the money if Ducey does not redesignate the $173 million programs to ensure they don't "undermine efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19."