Data: U.S. Census Bureau; Chart: Axios Visuals

One of the few economic readings sporting a V-shaped recovery is U.S. retail sales, which showed the highest monthly gains in history in May (18.3%) and June (8.4%), and grew in August by 0.6%.

On one hand: While the reading showed a significant slowdown, total retail sales in August were higher than they were before the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S., even when excluding food services.

  • Spending on electronics rose 0.8%, clothing purchases increased 2.9%, and furniture spending rose 2.1% from July.

On the other hand: There is worry that the slowing pace reflects a slowing economy and consumers pulling back spending because Congress has not passed new relief measures to help the millions of Americans who remain out of work.

  • "Credit- and debit-card data collected by research firm Affinity Solutions and research group Opportunity Insights showed that overall spending was down 7.3% at the end of August compared with January levels," WSJ noted.
  • "JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s tracker of credit- and debit-card transactions showed that spending was down 5.7% over a year ago through Sept. 12, with airlines, travel and entertainment particularly hard hit."

Of note: The retail sales report does not track spending on services like health care, legal, and leisure and hospitality, which make up the lion's share of U.S. consumers' spending.

Go deeper

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
Oct 12, 2020 - Economy & Business

Markets ride the blue wave

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Markets got a shot in the arm from fiscal stimulus expectations last week, but it's not negotiations between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Trump administration that's got investors' attention — it's the largesse of spending expected from Pelosi, President Joe Biden and a Democratic Senate in 2021.

What's happening: Trump's polling numbers have fallen through the floor since the first presidential debate on Sept. 29.

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Coronavirus dashboard

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  1. Politics: Trump says if Biden's elected, "he'll listen to the scientists"Trump calls Fauci a "disaster" on campaign call — Fauci says he's "absolutely not" surprised Trump got coronavirus.
  2. Health: Coronavirus hospitalizations are on the rise — 8 states set single-day coronavirus case records last week.
  3. Business: Consumer confidence surveys show Americans are getting nervousHow China's economy bounced back from coronavirus.
  4. Sports: We've entered the era of limited fan attendance.
  5. Education: Why education technology can’t save remote learning.

Trump calls Fauci a "disaster" on campaign call

Photo: Stephen Lam/Getty Images

During a campaign call on Monday, President Trump slammed infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci, calling him a "disaster," and that "people are tired of COVID," according to multiple reporters who listened to the call.

Driving the news: CBS's "60 Minutes" aired an interview Sunday night with the NIAID director, where he said he was "absolutely not" surprised Trump contracted COVID-19 after seeing him on TV in a crowded place with "almost nobody wearing a mask."