19 May Retail Sales Inch Up In April, Driven By Inflation; Sporting Goods Stores See Decline
Retail sales, which are adjusted for seasonality but not for inflation, rose 0.4 percent in April from March, the Department of Commerce reported on Tuesday, following declines in March and February. The growth was still weaker than the 0.8 percent increase that economists expected, according to Refinitiv.
In March, sales were down 0.7 percent month-over-month but up 2.4 percent year-over-year. In February, sales were down 0.2 percent month-over-month but up 5.9 percent year-over-year. Compared to April last year, retail spending grew 1.6 percent in April, the weakest year-over-year increase since the early months of the pandemic – and far short of the 4.4 percent increase in the year-over-year inflation figure for the month..
The NRF’s calculation of retail sales, which excludes auto dealers, gas stations and restaurants to focus on core retail, showed April was up 0.6 percent from March and up 2 percent unadjusted year-over-year. In March, sales were down 0.7 percent month-over-month but up 3.4 percent year-over-year using this calculation. The NRF’s numbers were up 3.7 percent unadjusted year-over-year on a three-month moving average as of April.
“Retail sales rebounded in April, reflecting consumer resilience in the face of elevated economic uncertainty,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Moderating price levels, continued labor market strength and wage gains have increased consumer’s spending ability; however, they remain cautious and concerned about the current economic environment. Retailers continue to provide competitive pricing and convenience to help cost-sensitive consumers stretch their budgets.”
“Consumers remained engaged in April,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “Shoppers are being selective and price-sensitive, but we continue to expect that spending will see modest gains through the course of the year. Year-over-year growth slowed partly because of upward revisions to last year’s data but also an early indication that credit conditions are tightening and excess savings are shrinking.”
April sales were up in four out of nine retail categories on a yearly basis, led by online sales, health and personal care stores and general merchandise stores, and also rose in four categories on a monthly basis. Specifics from key sectors include:
- Online and other non-store sales were up 1.2 percent month over month, seasonally adjusted, and up 6.4 percent unadjusted year-over-year;
- Health and personal care stores were up 0.9 percent month over month, seasonally adjusted, and up 5.8 percent unadjusted year-over-year;
- General merchandise stores were up 0.9 percent month over month, seasonally adjusted, and up 4.1 percent unadjusted year-over-year;
- Grocery and beverage stores were down 0.2 percent month over month, seasonally adjusted, but up 2.9 percent unadjusted year-over-year;
- Clothing and clothing accessory stores were down 0.3 percent month over month, seasonally adjusted, and down 4.1 percent unadjusted year-over-year;
- Building materials and garden supply stores were up 0.5 percent month over month, seasonally adjusted, but down 5.7 percent unadjusted year-over-year;
- Electronics and appliance stores were down 0.5 percent month over month, seasonally adjusted, and down 8.2 percent unadjusted year-over-year;
- Furniture and home furnishings stores were down 0.7 percent month over month, seasonally adjusted, and down 8.8 percent unadjusted year-over-year; and
- Sporting goods stores were down 3.3 percent month-over-month, seasonally adjusted, and down 9.1 percent unadjusted year-over-year.