USA retail sales rebounded in April after sluggish winter

USA retail sales rebounded in April after sluggish winter

USA retail sales rebounded in April after sluggish winter

Sales in the non-store retail sector, which includes pure-play e-commerce, increased by 12% in April to $51.4 billion, the thirteenth straight month of double-digit increases.

Total sales for the February 2017 through April 2017 period were up 4.7% from the same period a year ago. A 0.2% monthly decline for March was revised up to show a 0.1% increase. Excluding foodservice, automotive, and gasoline, core retail sales rose 3% year over year, which GlobalData Retail Managing Director Neil Saunders called "a respectable uplift... only slightly below the average rate of growth over the past year".

Adding to retailers' problems, an unusually warm February hurt sales of winter wear, while a delay in tax refunds in the same month crimped spending in the February-April quarter.

Friday's report excluded consumer spending on most services, including medical care and housing.

"While the interplay between consumer confidence and spending is hard to gauge, retail sales trends and recent consumer sentiment readings are consistent with a pickup in the pace of the economy in the coming months", NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said in a blog posting.

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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. The unemployment rate in April was 4.4%, according to the Labor Department, matching its lowest level since 2001.

Still, retail chains have announced thousands of store closures so far this year, and some have filed for bankruptcy protection, as US shoppers increasingly shift their spending to online platforms from physical storefronts and malls.

While not a direct comparison, NRF's 2017 projection would top the 3.3 percent annual gain in retail sales from 2015 to 2016, based on data issued by the United States Department of Commerce.

Spending was uneven across other categories last month.

Sales fell in April for department stores by 0.2%, furniture by 0.5%, clothing and accessories by 0.5%, and grocery by 0.4%.

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