Retail sales were down 16% last month. The largest monthly drop on record.
To put that into context, the largest recorded single month decrease prior to April was a record 8.7%. In March of this year.
Two months in a row of record-setting drops in retail sales.
People are shopping less and less—and we’re all learning that life continues without it.
Looking deeper in the numbers: Clothing stores took the biggest hit with a 78.8% tumble in sales. Other big losers were electronics and appliances (60.6% decline), furniture and home furnishing (58.7% drop), and sporting goods (down 38%). Source
In other words, nonessential consumer goods are not being purchased. And yet, for most of us, life continues.
Oh, there may be some people that miss shopping and wish their weekend could be spent at the mall, but I get the feeling that “digging through clearance racks” is not the top item on most peoples’ to-do list when shelter-in-place guidelines are lifted.
Because we are all realizing that life is not found in an abundance of material possessions.
Retail shopping is not needed for our survival. Of course, it never was. But it has been helpful to be reminded of that fact.
Given the reality that most of our homes are filled with more possessions than at any point in human history (even after 2 months of stores being closed), buying stuff from the store is no longer about survival for most of us.
Shopping for clothes, electronics, or sporting goods is not a matter of life-or-death. We’re all learning that—or at least we should be.
But I think we are learning an even more important lesson.
We’re also learning that excess physical possessions is not where quality of life is found either.
I recently asked a group of random strangers on Twitter, “What are you most looking forward to doing when shelter-in-place guidelines are lifted?”
Among the answers, nobody replied “shopping.”
Instead, people want to hang out with friends, see loved ones, take their family out for dinner, attend concerts, use the parks, hit the gym, or go out to enjoy ice cream.
And I think that’s the point. When it comes to recognizing what activities contribute to quality of life, accumulating physical stuff pales in comparison to the actual life-giving pursuits we are being forced to go without.
We’re all learning this aren’t we? That nobody is missing material things.
We miss hugging our grandparents, sharing experiences with friends, social gatherings, intimate conversations, and meeting new people.
That is where life is found.
In relationships with other people.
Not in material possessions.