April retail sales rose 0.3% over last month and 4.7% over the previous year according to Census Bureau figures.
It was the second straight month of increased numbers, highlighting an economic rise after a slower start in 2018. Revised March sales showed a 0.8% increase instead of the original 0.6%. Economists polled by MarketWatch had forecast 0.3% increase in April sales.
The biggest winners? Clothing and Clothing Accessories Stores, which posted the biggest increase in sales in April as Americans bought the latest fashions or got new outfits for the warm weather. In the first 4 months of 2018, the category also posted a 3.6% increase over 2017 in the same period, according to statistics. Department stores also reported a small pickup in sales, while home-furnishing stores, internet retailers and home and garden centers were other winners.
Exeprts and analysts are enthused about the numbers.
“The strong year-over-year retail sales momentum continued in April, including core retail sales (those that exclude gasoline, automobiles, building materials, and food services), which is the closest measure of the consumer spending component of GDP. Clearly, consumers are continuing to do their part in driving the economy forward. This momentum is despite gasoline prices rising significantly over the first four months of the year. However, gas prices will be increasingly important to monitor for retailers as we progress throughout the year, as paying more at the pump will likely cut into consumers discretionary spending capability. But, consumers have proven resilient over the past few months and lower income taxes will hopefully also take some of the sting out of higher gas prices.” – Naveen Jaggi, President, JLL Retail
“These are solid figures, particularly given the upward revision to March, which supports our forecast that consumer spending is accelerating again in the second quarter after a sluggish first quarter. However, the numbers are unlikely to move markets much today.” – Andrew Grantham of CIBC Economics told MarketWatch.