SANDAG Report Forecasts Potential COVID-19 Impacts

Estimates of COVID-19 Impact on Sales by Sector

(pr)To help plan for the potential impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the San Diego regional economy, the SANDAG Data Science and Analytics team has developed a new report, COVID-19 Impact on the San Diego Regional Economy: Retail Sales and TransNet Revenue Forecasts, that will be updated regularly as new information becomes available.

The SANDAG forecast is a dynamic model that produces 40 potential scenarios based on an array of assumptions, estimates, and factors, such as the length of the pandemic and the severity on the economy. Assumptions are based on the most recent statements and information provided by Federal, State, and local authorities. The forecast also considers changes in legislation to support people and the economy, business decisions, and behavior changes in response to the pandemic.

“Hundreds of millions of Americans will be adversely affected by this pandemic,” said SANDAG Chief Economist Ray Major. “For the San Diego region, we modeled three scenarios: mild, moderate, and severe. Obviously, a mild scenario is the most desirable outcome, with no recession; a moderate outcome would compare to the early 1990s recession and recovery; and a severe scenario could mimic the 2008 Great Recession.”

In this first report, the economic impacts presented are based on the latest information available as of April 3, 2020.

Potential impacts include:

  • A 9.2% decrease in the voter-approved TransNet half-cent sales tax revenue during fiscal year 2021
  • Business sectors will be impacted differently, with industries such as apparel and retail sales potentially seeing sales reductions of 75-80%, while industries like drug stores, food markets, and liquor stores could see increases of 20-30%
  • Based on surveys of local businesses, taxable retail sales are anticipated to decline in aggregate by 25% in March and approximately 50% in April (view two possible scenarios in the chart below)

SANDAG will regularly review and compare national forecasts to our local economic forecast. The national forecast estimates the impact of the COVID-19 economic disruption on the U.S. GDP. SANDAG’s model extrapolates the impact of changes in the U.S. GDP on local retail sales and sales tax revenue in the San Diego region.

To see the full SANDAG report, COVID-19 Impact on the San Diego Regional Economy: Retail Sales and TransNet Revenue Forecasts, visit

Watch SANDAG Chief Economist Ray Major explain possible COVID-19 Impacts to local retail sales and TransNet revenue forecasts.

Data Science and Analytics at SANDAG

As the regional leader in economic analysis, the SANDAG Data Science and Analytics team uses complex, descriptive, and predictive data to inform and support policy decisions that promote economic, social, and environmental prosperity in the San Diego region. The team works to provide critical information for policy makers and elected officials to make intelligent investments for the San Diego region.


To protect the health and safety of staff, partners, and the general public, SANDAG offices are closed to the public. Our team is working remotely during this time to provide essential services, and to continue progress on critical regional projects. SANDAG will continue to monitor the development of COVID-19 in the region and follow guidance from the  San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency.