WASHINGTON-April sales by the U.S. retailers totaled $389.4 billion on an adjusted basis, up 0.5 percent over March and 7.6 percent ahead of April 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s monthly report.
It was the 10th consecutive month of retail-sales increases, and was cited by the National Retail Federation as evidence of how the retail sector and consumer spending are leading the economic recovery. However, much of the increase stemmed from the automotive sector, both in car and fuel sales. Sales at auto dealers rose 12.2 percent over April of last year, while gasoline sales were up 21.8 percent, thanks to spikes in gas prices.
Retailers that sell home furnishings fared less well. April sales at furniture and home furnishings stores dropped 1.1 percent from March and rose 0.8 percent over April 2010. At general-merchandise stores, sales grew 0.1 percent month over month and 2.5 percent year over year. The department stores (excluding leased departments) experienced sales declines of 0.2 percent from March to April and 2 percent from last year’s April to this year’s.
Noting that increases in job openings and growth in wages are helping to boost consumers’ confidence, Jack Kleinhenz, NRF’s chief economist, added, “While there are reasons to be optimistic, plenty of other concerns exist which could very easily shift consumers’ spending habits, including decreasing home prices, high unemployment levels and rising costs at the pump.”