NRF: April Retail Sales Show Continued Momentum

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Washington–Retail sales continued their upward climb in April, showing evidence of a much more confident consumer compared to this time last year.

According to figures released Friday by the National Retail Federation, April retail industry sales (which exclude automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants) increased 0.5% seasonally adjusted over March and 4.6% unadjusted year-over-year. With a constantly-shifting Easter holiday, retailers typically look at March and April sales combined to gauge consumer spending. Sales for the two months increased 5.6% unadjusted over last year.

Similarly,  the U.S. Commerce Department reported Friday that April’s total retail sales (which include non-general merchandise categories such as autos, gasoline stations and restaurants) increased 0.4% seasonally adjusted over March and 9.3% unadjusted year-over-year.

“The slow road to recovery is turning into a sprint as retailers experienced a nice bounce in April,” says NRF president and ceo Matt Shay. “But maintaining this sales momentum will be challenging. Until our economy begins to create jobs and reduce unemployment, the breadth and sustainability of this recovery remains uncertain.”

“Spring shopping and seasonal weather helped boost sales last month,” says Rosalind Wells, chief economist for NRF. “Spending on discretionary items had fallen by the wayside these last few years and we are encouraged to see consumers dipping into that pot once again.”

Apparel and Accessories Increase Over 2009

Clothing and accessories store sales decreased 1.0%seasonally adjusted from March but increased 5.4%unadjusted year-over-year. Electronics and appliance store sales decreased 0.4% seasonally adjusted month-to-month and increased 4.4% unadjusted from last year.

Building material and garden equipment stores saw the biggest improvement with sales increasing 6.9% seasonally adjusted month-to-month and 14.1% unadjusted year-over-year. Health and personal care stores sales increased 0.9% seasonally adjusted from last month and 3.3% unadjusted year-over-year.

As the world’s largest retail trade association, the National Retail Federation’s membership includes retailers of all sizes, formats and channels of distribution as well as chain restaurants and industry partners from the U.S.A. and more than 45 countries.  In the U.S.A., NRF represents more than 1.6 million American companies that employ nearly 25 million workers and generated 2009 sales of $2.3 trillion.

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