Consumer Alert: Stimulus spending boosts a struggling economy

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Our consumer alert is taking a look at retail sales. The March numbers are a clear indication that you did not let that stimulus money burn a hole in your pocket! Retail sales rose a whopping 9.8%. As soon as that money hit bank accounts, consumers were off to the races.

Here are some of the items we were buying most:

  • Sporting goods – All those little leaguers are getting ready to hit the diamond this summer.
  • Clothing – We’ve been in lockdown mode too long, and many of us thought it was high time for some new jeans, jumpers and jackets.
  • Food and Drinks – Your stimulus is stimulating the restaurant industry. And that is welcome news.

In March, restaurants saw a 13.9% surge. It was thanks to the confluence of three events: Your stimulus cash, vaccinations and the relaxation of COVID restrictions.

The National Restaurant Association confirms that more than 110,000 restaurants closed last year. So the March pump in patrons helped prop up a struggling industry.

Now from a peak to a plunge. And this pandemic plunge is a good one. The plunge in new weekly unemployment claims was the lowest since March 14 of last year. That’s good. But the number of continuing claims remains unchanged, a sign of an economy on the mend, but clearly not yet well.

And that’s your consumer alert.