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US retail sales plunged a record 16% in April as virus hit

Credit: iStock/Julien Viry

By JOSH BOAK and ANNE D'INNOCENZIO AP Business Writers

BALTIMORE (AP) — U.S. retail sales tumbled by a record 16.4% from March to April as business shutdowns caused by the coronavirus kept shoppers away, threatened stores across the country and weighed down a sinking economy.

The Commerce Department's report on retail purchases showed a sector that has collapsed so quickly that sales over the past 12 months are down a crippling 21.6%.

The sharpest drops from March to April were at clothiers, electronics stores, furniture stores and restaurants.

A long-standing migration of consumers toward online purchases is accelerating, with that segment posting a 8.4% monthly gain.

Measured year over year, online sales surged 21.6%.

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