A pickup in USA retail sales last month adds to signs of steady consumer spending that will help propel the economy after a first-quarter slowdown, Commerce Department data showed Friday. And total retail sales from February through April were up 4.7 percent annually, according to Commerce.
J.C. Penney Co Inc on Friday joined other department store chains in reporting a steeper-than-expected drop in same-store sales for the first quarter, sending the company's shares tumbling premarket to near record low levels.
The slowdown in consumer spending over the winter added to the woes of many retailers.
United States retail sales in April rebounded from two sluggish months - but clothing was one of just a few categories not to see any pickup in spending as shoppers continued to stay away from malls and online competition intensified. On a 12-month smoothed basis, sales fell by 2.1%, their smallest drop since December 2015. Core prices have risen 1.9 percent. Commerce reported that nonstore retailers April sales increased 11.9 percent annually.
Friday's report excluded consumer spending on most services, including medical care and housing.
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Consumer confidence has soared since the presidential election, but spending hasn't increased as much as the jump in optimism would suggest. Stronger March data than originally reported may help boost U.S. GDP, which showed a 0.7% pace of growth in the government's first estimate. And inflation has ticked up, eroding most of that wage gain.
And it offered up a caveat in that the "forecast is a baseline and does not take into account new fiscal measures pending in Washington".
Consumer prices rebounded moderately in April as energy prices climbed back up after a sharp decline in March.
Excluding auto sales, April's retail sales increase was 0.3% including food sales and 0.4% not including food sales. "Yet, with April sales a bit weaker than anticipated, we are trimming our projected of annualized growth in real consumer spending during the second quarter from 3.4% to 3.1%".