FINANCE

Retail sales post second straight monthly gain

BY Marianne Wilson

Consumers increased their spending in April, helping retail sales to blossom after a sluggish winter performance.

Retail sales in April increased 0.4% seasonally adjusted over March and 2.8% year-over-year as consumers continued to spend, according to the National Retail Federation said today. (The numbers exclude automobiles, gasoline stations and restaurants.) The April results build on improvement seen in March, which was up 0.3% monthly and 5.2% year over year.

NRF’s numbers are based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, which said overall April sales – including automobiles, gasoline and restaurants – were up 0.3% seasonally adjusted from March and up 4.7% year-over-year.

“Retail sales growth remains solid and on track as households benefit from tax cuts even though they have faced unseasonable weather and bumpy financial markets,” said NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “The tax cuts and higher savings levels should help consumers afford the recent surge in gasoline prices. And a solid job market, recent wage gains and elevated confidence translate into ongoing spending support.”

Specifics from key retail sectors during April include:’

• Online and other non-store sales were up 12.2% year-over-year and up 0.6% over March seasonally adjusted.

• Furniture and home furnishings stores were up 5.8% year-over-year and up 0.8% from March seasonally adjusted.

• Building materials and garden supply stores were up 5.6% year-over-year and up 0.4% from March seasonally adjusted.

• Electronics and appliance stores were up 2.2% year-over-year but down 0.1% from March seasonally adjusted.

• Health and personal care stores were up 0.2% year-over-year but down 0.4% from March seasonally adjusted.

• Grocery and beverage stores were down 0.1% year-over-year but up 0.4% from March.

• Clothing and clothing accessory stores were down 0.4% year-over-year but up 1.4% from March seasonally adjusted.

• General merchandise stores were down 0.8% year-over-year but up 0.3% from March seasonally adjusted.

• Sporting goods stores were down 3.8% year-over-year and down 0.1% from March seasonally adjusted.

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