U.S. retail traffic jumped over Memorial Day weekend: cellphone data - Metro US

U.S. retail traffic jumped over Memorial Day weekend: cellphone data

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in New Jersey

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – As the photos from beach and lake resorts made clear, many Americans dropped their guard over a temperate Memorial Day weekend, set aside coronavirus fears, and surged outside their homes, data from cellphone location companies showed in one of the strongest signs yet of the economic reopening taking hold in the country.

Data from Unacast estimated visits to some beach towns in southern states, including Alabama and Texas, roughly doubled from May 22-25 over the holiday weekend in 2019. The return of crowds to summer activities, captured in photos from places like Osage Beach in Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks region that led to a quarantine advisory, will be closely watched for its impact on the spread of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Traffic to resorts in the northeastern United States increased over the week before, but remained roughly half that of the Memorial Day weekend a year ago, Unacast estimated, a finding in line with the tighter coronavirus restrictions still in place from New York City to Washington, D.C.

(GRAPHIC: Summer’s here – https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/editorcharts/xegpbymlzvq/eikon.png)

Nationally, high frequency data showed a continued steady increase in activity.

Unacast showed national traffic to retail sites over the past week crept within about 25% of 2019, with a broader set of industries seeing higher activity. Data from Safegraph, indexed to March 1, rose nearly 10 percentage points, to 83, in the week beginning May 17 compared to the week before.

Data on a sample of small businesses released by time management company Homebase showed a small uptick in the number of places open and the number of employees working.

Broader indexes of the recovery showed little change. Goldman Sachs’ readings on consumer and industrial activity and a New York Federal Reserve Weekly Economic Index were all largely flat.

Another 2.1 million people filed for unemployment benefits in the week ended May 23, a decline of 323,000 from the prior week, the Labor Department reported on Thursday.

(GRAPHIC: Hitting bottom – https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/editorcharts/qzjvqweavxm/eikon.png)

For more on the data referenced here:

Unacast https://www.unacast.com/covid19/covid-19-retail-impact-scoreboard, Homebase https://joinhomebase.com/data/covid-19, Safegraph https://www.safegraph.com/dashboard, NYFed https://www.newyorkfed.org/research/policy/weekly-economic-index, ATLFed https://www.frbatlanta.org/cqer/research/gdpnow

(Reporting by Howard Schneider; Editing by Paul Simao)

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