BUSINESS, Commerce

U.S. Retail Sales Show Biggest Increase

retailsAccording to a National Retail Federation (NRF) report, retail sales surged in April, allaying any fears of a consumer falloff.

The report noted that excluding automobiles, gasoline stations and restaurants, sales rose 0.7 percent over March, according to NRF’s calculations.

Overall, U.S. retail sales saw an increase of 1.3 percent.

“Today’s retail sales data suggests that consumer activity, the primary driver of economic activity, has not lost its momentum,” said NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz.

“This sets the stage for an upturn in economic growth in the second quarter and should be encouraging for Federal Reserve policymakers as they contemplate interest rate adjustments,” he added.

April sales were 3.5 percent above the same month last year, and the three-month moving average was up 5.6 percent compared with a year ago.

Kleinhenz further said, “This is reflective of growth in a volatile and disrupted retail industry, where consumer engagement is evolving to reflect both new economic and changing market realities.”

In April, auto sales rose 3.2 percent, the largest increase since March 2015, after slumping 3.2 percent in March. Receipts at service stations increased 2.2 percent, reflecting recent increases in gasoline prices.

Receipts at clothing stores surged 1.0 percent, the largest increase since May 2015. Online retail sales jumped 2.1 percent, the biggest gain since June 2014. Receipts at sporting goods and hobby stores rose 0.2 percent last month.

Sales at electronics and appliance outlets increased 0.5 percent. Building materials and garden equipment store receipts, however, fell 1.0 percent last month, the largest decline since August. Sales at restaurants and bars rose 0.3 percent.

U.S. retail sales in April recorded their biggest increase in a year as Americans stepped up purchases of automobiles and a range of other goods,

suggesting the economy was regaining momentum after growth almost stalled in the first quarter.

Davy Desmond, Readers Bureau, Fellow

Edited by Jesus Chan

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