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Coronavirus Has Cratered Retail Traffic By 97 Percent

Retail traffic fell 97 percent last week from the previous year due to the coronavirus pandemic, causing former Saks CEO Steve Sadove to call this an “existential threat” to the brick-and-mortar sector.

Amid the torrent of bad economic news brought on by the coronavirus pandemic is the fact that retail foot traffic is down almost 98 percent from the same period last year, according to investment firm Cowen and Company:

In a research note sent to clients today, investment firm Cowen and Company estimated total foot traffic to US retailers was down 97.6% for the week through March 27 compared to the same time last year. It has come to a “near complete halt,” Cowen said, following the outbreak of the new coronavirus.

A sizable portion of the retail economy is closed for business in order to prevent the spread of the disease, but that figure is stark. In an interview with CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin, Madove reacted to the news by calling the pandemic “an existential threat to retail.”

“You’re going to have winners and losers but it’s awful hard to run a business for a long period of time with no revenue,” Madove said, and went on to ask “how are they going to survive?”

He said that companies with strong balance sheets could get through this, and was encouraged by measures to ease pressure on retailers from rents and mortgages, but also pointed out the uncertainty surrounding the length and potency of any eventual recovery for businesses that do survive.

Watch the clip above via CNBC.

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