As the COVID-19 era has vividly demonstrated, closing stores has, at best, a chilling effect on shopping. In April — a month when, unlike March or May, most if not all nonessential retailers closed down — retail sales as measured by the U.S. Commerce Department and tracked by Retail Dive plummeted 16%. Some segments fared quite a bit worse than that. Apparel sales plunged 89%, for example, while furniture and home sales fell 67%; electronics sales fell 65% and sporting goods and hobby sales fell 46%. General merchants, which in some cases were permitted to stay open thanks to sales of essential items, saw sales fall 14%, according to the government’s monthly report. Although e-commerce’s ability to fill in for closed stores has been surprisingly flawed, those sales rose 28%, and captured 19% of overall retail sales, up from 12% on average the past two years, according to Wells Fargo Economics Group, led by Senior Economist Tim Quinlan. Credit for that goes to retailers with already nimble e-commerce operations and the expansion of omnichannel services like curbside pickup. Read more at Retail Dive.