The Commerce Department says retail sales rose 0.4 percent last month, better than the 0.2 percent increase economists had expected but far below the 2.1 percent surge in March. The overall gain marked the seventh straight monthly increase.
According to the National Retail Federation, April retail industry sales (which exclude automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants) increased 0.5 percent seasonally adjusted over March and 4.6 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
With a constantly-shifting Easter holiday, retailers typically look at March and April sales combined to gauge consumer spending. Sales for the two months increased 5.6 percent unadjusted over last year.
April retail sales released today by the U.S. Commerce Department show total retail sales (which include non-general merchandise categories such as autos, gasoline stations and restaurants) increased 0.4 percent seasonally adjusted over March and 9.3 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
“The slow road to recovery is turning into a sprint as retailers experienced a nice bounce in April,” said NRF President and CEO Matt Shay. “But maintaining this sales momentum will be challenging. Until our economy begins to create jobs and reduce unemployment, the breadth and sustainability of this recovery remains uncertain.”
“Spring shopping and seasonal weather helped boost sales last month,” said Rosalind Wells, Chief Economist for NRF. “Spending on discretionary items had fallen by the wayside these last few years and we are encouraged to see consumers dipping into that pot once again.”
Building material and garden equipment stores saw the biggest improvement with sales increasing 6.9 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month and 14.1 percent unadjusted year-over-year. Health and personal care stores sales increased 0.9 percent seasonally adjusted from last month and 3.3 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
Clothing and clothing accessory store sales decreased 1.0 percent seasonally adjusted from March but increased 5.4 percent unadjusted year-over-year. Electronics and appliance store sales decreased 0.4 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month and increased 4.4 percent unadjusted from last year.