Retail Market Update: Impacts of Covid-19

We continue to experience retail market impacts from Covid-19, and new information released this week by U.S. Census Bureau sheds some light on the effects of the pandemic. Reporting through May 2020, that data shows estimated monthly sales for retail and food services by kind of business.

Download a .PDF version of the report.

According to the report, Retail & food services (NAICS 44, 45 & 722) year-to-date is -4.7% compared to 2019. However, excluding auto (motor vehicle) and gasoline sales are only -1.7%.

The bottom line is that things are not that bad overall. However, there are some significant “winners and losers” to note.

Image of the census retail sales report for May 2020


  • Auto (441) was -10.5%
  • Furniture & home furnishings (442) was -18.1%
  • Electronics & appliances (443) was -19.3%
  • Clothing stores (448) was -42.9%
  • Food services & drinking (722) was -22.3%
  • Department Stores (4521) was -21.0%


  • Building material (444) was +6.7%
  • Grocery stores (4451) was +13.6%
  • Ecommerce/nonstore (454) was +16.6%

Discount dept stores (WMT, Target) and warehouse (Costco, Sams) and dollar stores were about +7%.

It is good to keep in mind that about 35% of retail space is occupied by non-retail such as personal services (812), Gyms (71394) as well as Healthcare (62) and other professional offices.

Demand will change as the impact of the pandemic is reduced, and there will be a need for retail commercial space in the future, but the users will be different than in the past. 

As we continue to serve clients as an essential industry, we’ll keep you updated on key trends and economic data. If you have questions, please feel free to reach out to me directly.

Gary Ralston

Gary Ralston

Managing Director & Senior Advisor

Meet the Expert

Gary Ralston, CCIM, SIOR, SRS, CPM, CRE, CLS, CDP, CRX, CRRP, FRICS is a Managing Director & Senior Advisor at SVN | Saunders Ralston Dantzler Real Estate in Lakeland, Florida.

Gary M. Ralston, CCIM, SIOR, SRS, CPM, CRE, CLS, CDP, CRX, CRRP, FRICS is Managing Director of SVN Saunders Ralston Dantzler Realty, LLC – the premier commercial services provider in Central Florida. Gary is a recognized subject matter expert on retail and commercial properties, a successful real estate developer, investor and group investment sponsor.

From the early 1990s through 2004 Gary was the president and a member of the board of directors of Commercial Net Lease Realty, Inc. (NYSE:NNN) the industry leader in single-tenant corporate net-leased real estate. During that time he guided the company’s growth from less than $15 million in real estate assets to over $1.5 billion.