Published: Sat, May 13, 2017
Business | By Jorge Reeves

United States retail sales rebounded in April after sluggish winter

United States retail sales rebounded in April after sluggish winter

The NRF reported that April retail sales, excluding automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants, saw a 0.3 percent seasonally-adjusted increase over March, and were up 3 percent on an unadjusted annual basis.

Total sales for the February 2017 through April 2017 period were up 4.7% from the same period a year ago.

Retail trade sales were up 0.4% from March 2017, and up 4.5% from past year. For the year, Internet sales were up 11.9 percent. Plus there are "vastly more options for time [and] money use than 10 years ago", according to the Retail Metrics report, and social media is providing just one of the experiences that younger consumers prefer over the accumulation of goods.

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"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".

But many forecasters predicted household spending would bounce back this spring, based on underlying health in the economy. Gauges of consumer and business confidence remain high following last year's presidential election; the University of Michigan's index of consumer sentiment was up 9% in April compared with a year earlier.

Hiring has been steady and the unemployment rate fell to a ten-year low of 4.4 percent in April. Looking at the overall economy, the US central bank said it "views the slowing in growth during the first quarter as likely to be transitory".

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Sales at USA retailers rose in April, and March sales were stronger than originally estimated, painting a stronger picture of American consumers than previously reported.

All other sectors saw increases over April previous year. Stronger March data than originally reported may help boost U.S. GDP, which showed a 0.7% pace of growth in the government's first estimate.

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%. But the optimism is quelled to a degree, he noted, in that while consumers appear to have the resources to spend more than in the past, there is likely to be some hesitancy until there is more clarity in regards to policy changes regarding taxes, trade, and other issues.

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