As the coronavirus pandemic ravages an already-struggling retail landscape, the divide between “essential” and “non-essential” businesses has been thrown into stark relief. “COVID-19 has hit the retail industry unevenly,” National Retail Federation Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “This is a market of haves and have-nots. The haves are the stores that remain open with lines out the doors to buy daily necessities while the have-nots are the stores that have closed and are taking the brunt of the impact of the pandemic.”
Here are four numbers that sum up retail right now.
That’s how much retail sales in the United States dropped in March, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, from $529 billion in February to $438 billion in March. This monthly drop is the largest ever recorded, the National Retail Federation notes, far exceeding the retail contraction during the financial crisis that saw sales drop 4.3% in November 2008.
That’s how much cash Gap Inc. has burned since February, according to a recent regulatory filing. On Thursday, Gap said it would not pay April rent for its stores—a move the company says will save it $115 million per month. It also cut executive pay and furloughed tens of thousands of employees.
Analysts at UBS are predicting that 100,000 retail stores will close by 2025 as a result of the coronavirus. As e-commerce picks up, brick and mortar clothing stores, consumer electronics, furniture, and grocery stores are likely to bear the brunt of the impact.
According to a recent LinkedIn study, Kroger KR currently has about 19,000 open jobs— that’s more than 2.5 times its usual total. The number underscores that while many outlets are struggling, business at “essential” retailers like grocery stores is surging, especially as online ordering ramps up. LinkedIn’s data reveals that in March, job applications in essential retail soared 88% across the country.