Data trackers show U.S. retail traffic edging up

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Traffic to U.S. retail stores ticked up last week and hours worked at a sample of small businesses increased as the country’s patchwork reopening continued, though overall indices of economic activity showed little change and 2.98 million more Americans filed for unemployment.

Data on visits to retail stores from cellphone location firms Unacast here and Safegraph here both showed an increase through May 10 as more states lifted restrictions imposed to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Time management software firm Homebase showed a rise as well in activity at roughly 55,000 firms around the country who use its software, many in the hard-hit restaurant sector. The number of businesses that are open and the number of employees on the job all increased.

GRAPHIC: The U.S. reopening -

Broader measures of economic activity, however, have yet to find a clear bottom in an economic downturn that began in March as shoppers retreated indoors amid a pandemic threat that has infected more than 1.4 million and killed more than 83,000 in the United States, with no clear plateau.

Another 2.98 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits in the latest week, bringing the total new claims since March 21 to more than 36 million.

A Goldman Sachs index of consumer activity released Wednesday fell slightly from the previous week, though a measure of industrial activity did rise.

A New York Fed weekly economic index designed to track growth in Gross Domestic Product also fell.

GRAPHIC: Hitting bottom -

Reporting by Howard Schneider; Editing by Andrea Ricci