U.S. retail sales increased more than expected in June, but the budding economic recovery is being threatened by a resurgence in new Covid-19 infections and high unemployment.
The Commerce Department said on Thursday retail sales rose 7.5% last month. That was on top of the 18.2% jump in May, which was the biggest gain since the government started tracking the series in 1992. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast retail sales advancing 5% in June.
Retail sales have rebounded as businesses resumed operations after being shuttered in mid-March in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus. But new cases of the respiratory illness have exploded, especially in the densely populated South and West, forcing some authorities in these regions to either close businesses again or pause reopenings.
The uncertainty sparked by the spiraling Covid-19 cases is chipping at the recovery, which started in May, and could worsen already astoundingly high unemployment. The economy had already slipped into recession in February, before the coronavirus-related shutdowns began in the United States.