Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

U.S. retail sales rose 7.5% in June, after a revised record 18.2% jump in May, the Commerce Department said Thursday.

Why it matters: Consumer spending accounts for roughly 70% of U.S. economic activity, and June's retail sales nearly reached February's pre-pandemic levels, driven by spending at car dealerships, clothing and furniture stores. But economists warn it may have since slowed as states began to reimpose lockdowns amid surging coronavirus caseloads.

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New York Fed weekly economic index reverses again

Data: New York Fed; Chart: Axios Visuals

The New York Fed's Weekly Economic Index turned lower for the week ending Aug. 1, showing real-time, high-frequency economic data again weakening in the last week of July.

Why it matters: The index turned negative again after an upwardly revised previous week. It supports other recent real-time economic data that show U.S. growth reversing.

The next wave to hit Main Street

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Call it the great retail wash. A wave of defaults, bankruptcies and evictions expected in cities across the U.S. is poised to remake the retail landscape across the country, but there may be some upside for consumers and small businesses.

Why it matters: Rather than an overnight descent into a collection of urban wastelands full of Starbucks, Amazon fulfillment centers, Chase bank branches and nothing else, the coronavirus pandemic and resulting retail apocalypse may just mean that, in major U.S. cities, less is more.

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Macron visits Beirut promising a "new political pact" for Lebanon

Macron visits the hard-hit Gemmayzeh neighborhood. Photo: AFP via Getty Images

French President Emmanuel Macron walked through the blast-damaged streets of Beirut on Thursday, swarmed by people chanting for the fall of Lebanon's government and pleading for international aid.

Why it matters: Lebanon is at a breaking point. Its economy was collapsing and its government hardly functioning — all before a massive explosion destroyed swathes of the capital city, including its vital port.