April 30, 2020 / 1:20 PM / a month ago

Coronavirus sends U.S. consumer spending into record fall in March

FILE PHOTO: An abandoned shopping cart lies between empty paper towel aisles during coronavirus disease (COVID-19) related hoarding at a Target store in Culver City, California, U.S., April 2, 2020. REUTERS/Lisa Baertlein

(Reuters) - U.S. consumer spending plunged by the most on record in March on the back of stay-at-home orders across much of the country to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The Commerce Department said on Thursday consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, tumbled 7.5% last month after rising 0.2% in February. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast consumer spending falling 5.0% in March.

The drop was more than three times larger than the previous record decline of 2.1% in January 1987. The Commerce Department began tracking the data in 1959.

Reporting by Dan Burns; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama

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