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Data: U.S. Census Bureau; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

The consumer-spending pullback whacked businesses that were already struggling to recover from the initial hit from the pandemic, data from the U.S. Census Bureau show.

Why it matters: This month’s lockdowns (or people curbing their own activity for safety reasons) will be a bigger setback for these same shops in the weeks to come.

The winners: Some shops have seen a complete recovery — and then some.

  • Spending at car dealers and auto part shops is 10% higher now than last year, thanks to a hotter car market in the wake of the pandemic.
  • Nonstore retailers, such as e-commerce giants like Amazon, rose 29% year over year.

The losers: That was not the case for restaurants: Heading into a second round of economic restrictions, the recovery in spending at restaurants has already flatlined.

  • Sales at restaurants are more than 14% lower from this time last year.
  • At clothing stores, sales are nearly 13% lower from last year.

Zoom out: Overall, consumers continued to spend in October — but not nearly as ferociously as prior months.

  • Retail sales edged up 0.3% — the smallest monthly rise in sales figures since May, when shopping initially rebounded from the record drop early on in the pandemic.
  • It‘s raising red flags about the economic recovery, which will depend heavily on strong consumer spending.

What’s happening: It could bethe start of a negative turn in consumption — either due to rising COVID cases or the potentially millions of unemployed workers reaching the end of their CARES Act savings,” Curt Long, chief economist at the National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions, said in a press release.

The bottom line: “October retail sales were underwhelming, but the retail outlook for November is even bleaker,“ Morning Consult economist John Leer noted, citing the research firm’s own data that show falling consumer confidence this month.

  • Economists at JPMorgan said in a note to clients that weak Chase card spending data “underscore that the momentum loss is building into November.”

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Nov 20, 2020 - Energy & Environment

How Biden's win could juice electric vehicle growth

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

President-elect Biden's win could juice electric vehicle sales in the U.S. by a lot, per an analysis from the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The big picture: Biden, who talks a lot about electric vehicles, is expected to try to scuttle Trump administration regulations that weakened the Obama-era auto mileage and emissions rule. And go even further.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Nov 20, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Why Tesla's market cap is soaring far past GM's

Expand chart
Data: FactSet; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

Tesla is soaring past General Motors in market capitalization — even as electric vehicles remain still a tiny slice of vehicle sales and FM's overall sales far outstrip Tesla's.

Why it matters: Tesla's enormous market value helps to show how investors see vehicles with a plug as the future, even though internal combustion vehicles will dominate for a long time to come.

Updated 10 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Sen. Kelly Loeffler to return to campaign trail after 2nd negative test

Sen. Kelly Loeffler addresses supporters during a rally on Thursday. Photo: Jessica McGowan/Getty Images

Sen. Kelly Loeffler's (R-Ga.) campaign announced Monday that she "looks forward to getting back out on the campaign trail" after testing negative for COVID-19 for a second time, following earlier conflicting results.

Why it matters: Loeffler has been campaigning at events ahead of a Jan. 5 runoff in elections that'll decide which party holds the Senate majority. Vice President Mike Pence was with her on Friday.