Retail sales strengthen in April, brightening economic outlook

Retail sales rebounded in April after sluggish winter

Sales at USA stores, restaurants and online retailers increased a seasonally adjusted 0.4% in April from the prior month, the Commerce Department said Friday.

While retail is in a state of flux, the source of those difficulties is not mainly due to a major slowdown in consumer spending, Saunders said. Retailers like electronic stores and building material suppliers had a good month, and even department stores eked out a small gain.

Sales at US retailers rose in April, and March sales were stronger than originally estimated, painting a stronger picture of American consumers than previously reported.

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April sales for furniture and home furnishings retailers jumped 3.8% from the same month past year, lagging behind the 4.5% gain for the broader retail sector. Compared to April 2016, the clothing and accessories segment was up of 1.7 percent, and general merchandise was up 0.8 percent. Overall retail sales were up 0.4% from March. Gauges of consumer and business confidence remain high following last year's presidential election; the University of Michigan's index of consumer sentiment was up 9% in April compared with a year earlier. Plus there are "vastly more options for time [and] money use than 10 years ago", according to the Retail Metrics report, and social media is providing just one of the experiences that younger consumers prefer over the accumulation of goods. And inflation has ticked up, eroding most of that wage gain.

Shares in JC Penney sank 10% after it became the latest department store chain to report disappointing results.

That is important to consider when considering, as NRF President Matthew Shay pointed out, that 2016 finished with strong momentum as jobs and income saw growth, coupled with debt staying on the lower side.

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With consumer spending accounting for around two-thirds of all economic activity, that commensurate growth, or projected growth, is contingent on consumers being able to change behavior, or, in other words, consistently spend more.

Consumer prices rebounded moderately in April as energy prices climbed back up after a sharp decline in March.

Total U.S. retail and food services sales increased 4.5% from April a year ago to $474.9 billion and were up 0.4%, from a preliminary March sales estimate.

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I think ultimately if I'd had better pace then I would have been further up. "The relationship between the two of them is very much intact".

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