Nobody Should Be Surprised by a Drop in Retail Sales

South Coast Plaza, once the mightiest mall west of the Mississippi, has been laid low by the coronavirus lockdown.Kevin Drum

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

I confess that I just don’t get this:

U.S. stocks sank at the open Wednesday, dragged down by dismal earnings and retail data that offered new snapshots into the pandemic’s grip on the American economy. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 660 points, or 2.7 percent, shortly before noon and the Standard & Poor’s 500 index and Nasdaq composite also fell sharply. The sell-off followed a blistering report on March retail sales, which plunged 8.7 percent for the worst monthly decline ever.

Of course the March retail sales report was “blistering.” There can’t be a single human being in the country who didn’t expect that. And yet, merely putting an official number on it causes the stock market to plummet.

I suppose we ought to brace for the stock market to be shocked once again next month, when investors pretend not to understand that lockdowns affected only half of March but all of April. This means that April retail sales will be down even more and the market can panic once again. Yeesh.

A BETTER WAY TO DO THIS?

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and we can't afford to come up short. But when a reader recently asked how being a nonprofit makes Mother Jones different from other news organizations, we realized we needed to lay this out better: Because "in absolutely every way" is essentially the answer.

So we tried to explain why your year-end donations are so essential, and we'd like your help refining our pitch about what make Mother Jones valuable and worth reading to you.

We'd also like your support of our journalism with a year-end donation if you can right now—all online gifts will be doubled until we hit our $350,000 goal thanks to an incredibly generous donor's matching gift pledge.

payment methods

A BETTER WAY TO DO THIS?

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and we can't afford to come up short. But when a reader recently asked how being a nonprofit makes Mother Jones different from other news organizations, we realized we needed to lay this out better: Because "in absolutely every way" is essentially the answer.

So we tried to explain why your year-end donations are so essential, and we'd like your help refining our pitch about what make Mother Jones valuable and worth reading to you.

We'd also like your support of our journalism with a year-end donation if you can right now—all online gifts will be doubled until we hit our $350,000 goal thanks to an incredibly generous donor's matching gift pledge.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate