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NRF: April Retail Sales Fought Past Headwinds

April retail sales, excluding automobiles, gas stations and restaurants, increased 0.6% seasonally adjusted from last month and 3.9% unadjusted year-over-year, the National Retail Federation announced today. Better employment numbers, increasing housing prices and a record-breaking stock market boosted consumer confidence, according to the organization, factors that also drove total retail and food services sales, which includes automobiles, gasoline stations and restaurants, up 0.1% seasonally adjusted month-to-month and up 3.7% adjusted from last year’s April.

“In the face of higher taxes and sequester, consumers provided the economy a bit of a reprieve this month,” said NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay. “Despite colder spring weather and an early Easter, consumers shopped in April, demonstrating an inherent resiliency even as the economy faces serious headwinds, including stagnant job and wage growth.”

NRF based its numbers on April retail sales just released by the United States Department of Commerce, which demonstrated that furniture and home furnishing store revenues came in flat seasonally adjusted month-to-month and increased 6.4% unadjusted year-over-year, that general merchandise store sales increased 1% seasonally adjusted month-to-month and decreased 2.7% unadjusted year-over-year, and that health and personal care stores’ sales were up 0.1% seasonally adjusted month-to-month and flat unadjusted year-over-year.

In addition, non-store retailer sales gained 1.4% seasonally adjusted month-to-month and increased 19% unadjusted year-over-year, while electronics and appliance stores’ sales gained 0.8% seasonally adjusted month-to-month and increased 1.2% unadjusted year-over-year, building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers store sales increased 1.5% seasonally adjusted and advanced 7.7% unadjusted year-over-year, clothing and clothing accessories store sales increased 1.2% seasonally adjusted month-to-month and gained 3.5% unadjusted year-over-year, and sporting goods, hobby, book and music store sales advanced 0.5% seasonally adjusted month-to-month and increased 4.5% unadjusted year-over-year.

“Today’s retail sales data is encouraging news,” NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “However positive, retail sales and consumer spending in April may not necessarily translate into a stronger or healthier second quarter. NRF continues to forecast moderate sales growth for the year.”