Washington, D.C. -- Retail sales rose 0.5% in April after a 0.9% increase in March, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. It was the tenth straight increase and came as consumers spent more on gasoline, clothing and autos in April.
Much of the gain in April, however, came from a surge in gasoline and food prices. Excluding a 2.7% jump in gasoline sales, the increase was a much smaller 0.2%.
Grocery stores sales jumped 1.5% -- triple the March increase. That partly reflected higher food prices.
The overall gain in sales in April was the smallest increase since July. However, the government did revise up the March increase from a previous estimate of 0.4% to a much stronger 0.9% gain. February sales were also revised up to show a stronger 1.3% increase rather than the previous 1.1% increase.
The Commerce Department report was at odds with reports from 28 of the nation's biggest retail chains, the Associated Press said. According to a survey by the International Council of Shopping Centers, these retailers enjoyed strong sales last month and over the past two months saw sales rise 5.25%, compared with the same period a year ago.