WASHINGTON — U.S. retail sales plummeted 8.7 percent 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 dropped 25.6 percent, while clothing store sales collapsed, sliding 50.5 percent.

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, however, jumped by nearly 26 percent as Americans stocked up on food and consumer goods to ride out the pandemic. A category that includes mostly online sales rose 3.1 percent.