Retail sales up in April

Retail sales increased in April, led by online, consumer electronics stores and home improvement outlets. 
 
 Retail sales in April increased 0.3% seasonally adjusted over March and 3% unadjusted year-over-year, the National Retail Federation said on Friday. The number, which exclude automobiles, gasoline stations and restaurants, was below expectations.
 
When looking at business lines, performance in April was driven by online and other non-store retailers, electronics stores, and building materials and supplies. On a three-month moving average, retail sales have grown 2.6% year-over-year, according to the NRF.
 
“While the interplay between consumer confidence and spending is difficult to gauge, retail sales trends and recent consumer sentiment readings are consistent with a pickup in the pace of the economy in the coming months,” NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “The housing recovery has been an important variable in consumers’ willingness to spend. Low retail price inflation has continued, drawing in shoppers but providing heartburn to the bottom line for many retailers.”
   
In a separate report on Friday, the Labor Department said its Consumer Price Index rose 0.2% after dropping 0.3% in March. The rise in prices suggested that March's drop, which was the first in 13 months, was an aberration, according to Reuters.
 
Specific findings of the NRF report include:
 
• Online and other non-store sales increased 1.4% seasonally adjusted over March and increased 9.4% unadjusted year-over-year.
 
• Sales at clothing and accessories stores decreased 0.5% seasonally adjusted from March but increased 1.7% unadjusted year-over-year.
 
• Sales at general merchandise stores decreased 0.5% seasonally adjusted over March but increased 0.8% year-over-year.
 
• Electronics and appliances stores’ sales increased 1.3% seasonally adjusted over March but decreased 0.1% unadjusted year-over-year.
 
• Furniture and home furnishings stores’ sales decreased 0.5% seasonally adjusted from March but increased 0.9% unadjusted year-over-year.
 
• Sales at building materials and supplies stores increased 1.2% seasonally adjusted from March and increased 5.7 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
 
• Sporting goods stores’ sales increased 0.6% seasonally adjusted from March but decreased 3.3% unadjusted year-over-year.  
 
• Sales at health and personal care stores increased 0.8% seasonally adjusted over March but decreased 0.6% unadjusted year-over-year.
 
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