By CHRISTOPHER RUGABER and ANNE D'INNOCENZIO AP Economics Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. retail sales plummeted 8.7% in March, a record drop as the viral outbreak closed down thousands of stores and shoppers stayed home.

Sales fell sharply across many categories: Auto sales fell 25.6%, while clothing store sales collapsed, dropping 50.5%.

U.S. consumer confidence has plunged and the vast majority of Americans are hunkered down at home under shelter in place orders.

Grocery store sales did jump by nearly 26% as Americans hoarded food and consumer items. A category that mostly includes online sales rose 3.1%.