Spending starting to improve, some retail sales rising

With countries starting to loosen lockdown restrictions, many nations are beginning to show spending improvements, according to Visa.

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China Slowly Recovers From Coronavirus Outbreak

A Chinese worker wears a protective mask as she waits for customers at a sweets shop on a commercial street on June 2, 2020 in Beijing, China. After decades of growth, officials recently said Chinas economy had shrunk in the latest quarter due to the impact of the coronavirus epidemic. The slump in the worlds second largest economy is regarded as a sign of difficult times ahead for the global economy. While industrial sectors in China are showing signs of reviving production, a majority of private companies are operating at only 50% capacity, according to analysts. With the pandemic hitting hard across the world, officially the number of coronavirus cases in China is dwindling, ever since the government imposed sweeping measures to keep the disease from spreading. Officials believe the worst appears to be over in China, though there are concerns of another wave of infections as the government attempts to reboot the worlds second largest economy. Since January, China has recorded more than 81,000 cases of COVID-19 and at least 3200 deaths, mostly in and around the city of Wuhan, in central Hubei province, where the outbreak first started.

Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

The outbreak of the coronavirus has dealt a shock to the global economy with unprecedented speed. Following are developments Tuesday related to the national and global response, the work place and the spread of the virus.

Get the latest news about the coronavirus and its ripple effects in Chicago and Illinois in our live blog.

SPENDING:

With countries starting to loosen lockdown restrictions, many nations are beginning to show spending improvements, according to Visa. Total U.S. payments volume dropped 5% in May from a year earlier. That’s a 13 percentage point improvement from April. Debit grew 12% and credit declined 21% year-over-year in the period. That’s a 17 percentage point and 9 percentage point improvement over April, respectively.

Visa said in a regulatory filing that the recovery in international markets in which it process the majority of transactions lagged the U.S. in May. Global processed transactions declined 12% last month, a 12 percentage point improvement over April.

BORROWING:

Interest rates on U.S. new vehicle loans dropped to 4% on average last month, the lowest since 2013 as automakers offered 0% financing to juice sales. The Edmunds.com auto pricing site says the rate was the third-lowest since 2002.

Loan lengths were near record highs in May with an average of 71.4 months, Edmunds reported. Used car rates averaged 8.3%, down from 8.7% a year ago but up more than a point from May of 2015.

RETAILER RESULTS:

Sales at Lands’ End fell 17.3% in the first quarter due to weakening demand caused by the virus outbreak. The retailer has taken several steps to cut costs and improve its financial flexibility, including implementing furloughs and temporarily reducing salaries for executives and corporate staff. Lands’ End said it is cutting about 10% of its corporate staff in the second quarter.

For the second quarter, the company anticipates revenue declining in the mid to high single digits compared with a year ago.

Dick’s Sporting Goods swung to a loss in the first quarter and sales declined, but the sporting goods retailer is seeing sales improve as stores reopen. While consolidated same-store sales fell 29.5% in the first quarter, they are only down 4% through the first four weeks of the second quarter.

Online sales remain strong, as consumers look to remain fit during lockdown. The chain’s e-commerce sales, which include curbside contactless pickup, increased 110% in the first quarter. Following Dick’s temporary store closures through the end of the first quarter, e-commerce sales rose 210%.

Build-A-Bear moved to a loss in its fiscal first quarter, according to preliminary results, with sales falling 45%.

The company is starting to reopen some stores, but says it expects to continue with tight inventory management, preserving cash and a reduced staff as it works its way through the virus outbreak. It anticipates having approximately 35 stores open by the end of this week, with more opening over the coming weeks.

The plush toy company did experience a surge in online orders, particularly for its stuffed animal based on “the Child” from the Disney+ series, “The Mandalorian.” Build-A-Bear said Tuesday that it had its highest single day demand in its online history with the initial offering of the product.

Sally Beauty Holdings is seeing a strong uptick in sales at reopened stores. The company estimates May’s enterprise-wide sales at $262 million, compared with $95 million in April.

Sally Beauty had 37% of its stores open in the U.S. and Canada in early May, but has 84% open as of Tuesday. All furloughed workers in the field and at headquarters in the U.S. and Canada have been recalled by the company, effective on Monday, except for associates working in the limited number of stores that remain closed. Additional associates in Europe and Latin America will return in the company’s fourth quarter.

CENTRAL GOVERNMENTS & BANKS:

France’s government says its recession will be even deeper this year than earlier thought. Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on RTL radio Tuesday that the government now forecasts the French economy – one of the world’s largest – will shrink by 11% this year instead of earlier estimates of 8%. That will be France’s worst economic performance since World War II.

The Czech economy has been on the decline in the first quarter of 2020 amid the pandemic. Figures released from the Czech Statistics Office on Tuesday show that the Czech economy contracted by 3.3% in the first three months of the year compared with the previous three months, and by 2% year-over-year.

It’s the biggest decline since 2010, and the economy is expected to contract even more in the second quarter.

MARKETS: U.S. stock indexes are moving higher Tuesday, following broad gains in global markets as investors hope that the gradual lifting of lockdown mandates will put economies on the path to recovery.

UNPAID LEAVE: Starbucks is encouraging employees to take unpaid leave through the end of September. In a letter sent to employees late last month, Starbucks U.S. President Rossann Williams said employees on leave will be able to keep their benefits and may also apply for unemployment aid. The company has reopened 85% of U.S. stores, but hours are limited and dining areas remain closed.

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