Decent Retail Sales In April Point To Likely Rebound In Consumer Spending From First Quarter Weakness

Not great numbers but strong enough. For April it looks like a strong job market and higher take-home pay more than balanced out higher gasoline prices. Gas prices are now at their highest level since 2014. (Typically when gas prices climb, consumers cut back spending in other areas.)

Retail sales rose 0.3% in April against an estimate of 0.3% among economists surveyed by Briefing.com. The closely watched retail sales except for auto number was weaker than expected, showing an increase of just 0.3% against economist projections of 0.5% growth. Retail sales ex-autos, food service, building materials, and gas stations, grew 0.4% after upwardly revised March growth of 0.5%.

Today’s release from the Commerce Department also included positive news in the form of an upward revision in March growth in retail sales (to 0.8% from 0.6%) and in March retail sales ex-auto (to 0.4% from 0.2%.) Retail sales in February were also revised upwards to unchanged from a previous decrease of 0.1%

Nine of 13 major retail categories showed advances in April, led by the biggest jump in sales at apparel stores since March 2017. Demand for autos barely grew with sales at auto dealers climbing just 0.1% after a 2.1% increase in March.

Consumer spending increased by just 1.1% in the first quarter of 2018, a big slowdown from growth rates for the last three quarters of 2017.