US retail sales rebounded in April after sluggish winter

Judith Bessette
Mai 13, 2017

Retail sales growth slowed again in April compared to recent months, dragged down by a drop in department and apparel specialty store performance.

Purchases rose 0.4 per cent after a 0.1 per cent increase the prior month. This also came in below expectations of economists, who were anticipating an increase of 0.4%. Excluding both autos and gasoline, sales also were up 0.3% last month compared with March.

By many accounts, retail sales picked up in the later part of the first quarter of 2017; J.C. Penney CEO Marvin Ellison made a note of that in his statement on the company's report Friday morning.

The sales gains were widespread, as Americans spent more at electronics and appliance stores, health care retailers, and sporting goods outlets.

Total sales for the February 2017 through April 2017 period were up 4.7% from the same period a year ago. Last month's gain in retail sales was solid but not particularly strong.

Weaker-than-expected retail sales figures weighed on Wall Street as trading got under way on Friday.

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E-commerce sales rose 1.4% in April and 11.9% year over year, according to the report, suggesting that, while growing, online sales results don't put much of a dent into overall retail sales.

However, the upside was limited by decreases in sales by clothing and accessories stores, furniture and home furnishings stores, and general merchandise stores. "Low retail price inflation has continued, drawing in shoppers but providing heartburn to the bottom line for many retailers".

With motor vehicles and gas stripped out, sales were up 0.3%, after a 0.4% increase in March.

The Labor Department says consumer prices rose 0.2 percent after a 0.3 percent drop in March, which was the biggest fall in more than two years.

"Retail is in a state of flux and is facing many challenges, but the source of these difficulties is not, primarily, a function of consumers spending less".

All other sectors saw increases over April past year. Sprint shares rose 3.2 percent.

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