WASHINGTON — Retail sales rose ever so slightly in April, putting a damper on hopes of a sharp uptick in economic growth in the second quarter. According to the U.S. Commerce Department, retail sales — which include categories such as automobiles, gasoline stations and restaurants — rose 0.1% in April, following a revised 1.5% increase in March that ranked as the biggest since March 2010.
According to the National Retail Federation, April retail sales, which exclude automobiles, gas stations and restaurants, were unchanged seasonally-adjusted month-to-month, yet increased 4.7% unadjusted year-over-year.
“Even though retail sales were weaker than anticipated, the fundamentals of the economy, including improving job growth and income gains, remain positive,” said chief economist Jack Kleinhenz. “While the shift in Easter played into the seasonal figures, NRF remains optimistic that retail sales will keep their positive trajectory, albeit in fits-and-starts, in the second quarter.”
Additional findings from NRF’s retail sales analysis include:
• Building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers stores’ sales increased 0.4% seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and 2.7% unadjusted year-over-year;
• Clothing and clothing accessories stores' sales increased 1.2% seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and 5.2% unadjusted year-over-year;
• Electronics and appliance stores’ sales decreased 2.3% seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and 1.8% unadjusted year-over-year;
• Furniture and home furnishing stores’ sales decreased 0.6% seasonally-adjusted month-to-month yet increased 3.6% unadjusted year-over-year;
• General merchandise stores’ sales increased 0.2% seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and 5.3% unadjusted year-over-year;
• Health and personal care stores’ sales increased 0.6% seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and 6.6% unadjusted year-over-year;
• Nonstore retailers’ sales decreased 0.9% seasonally-adjusted month-to-month yet increased 5.8% unadjusted year-over-year; and
• Sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores’ sales increased 0.7% seasonally-adjusted month-to-month yet decreased 0.6% unadjusted year-over-year.
“The shift in Easter to April did not provide enough bounce to retailers as retail sales struggled to keep their strong spring pace,” NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said. “With consumer spending accounting for roughly 70% of total economic activity, NRF remains hopeful that the uninspiring April retail sales figures are just a temporary seasonal fluctuation.”