As Americans reduced their spending on appliances and clothes, among other items, retail sales in the U.S. dropped in April. The Commerce Department said on Wednesday (May 15) that sales declined 0.2 percent, CNBC reported.
Sales at appliance and electronics stores declined by 1.3 percent, while car sales fell 1.1 percent. This year, retail sales have been following a “seesaw pattern,” as the news outlet put it. Retail sales increased in January, dropped in February, rose in March and then declined again in April. The results imply that Americans are hesitant to freely spend even with modest wage increases and job gains, the report noted.
As it stands, retail sales are monitored closely because they comprise roughly one-third of consumer spending. During the month, overall consumer spending increased by the most in almost 10 years after small increases in the previous two months. The economy grew at 3.2 percent in Q1 at an annual rate, and, while consumer spending increased modestly, it was not a main driver behind the increase.
The news comes as March exhibited the best showing of monthly retail sales data over a timeframe of a year and a half. The data released by the Commerce Department showed that sales were up 1.6 percent in March. And the showing was well above the consensus forecast of economists at 1.1 percent. A tailwind came from sales of new cars and trucks, which were up 3.1 percent and buoyed overall results.
The results were also driven by energy prices, which were up 10 percent during the month. And broad-based gains were still in place even with stripping out the impact of energy prices. Total core retail sales were up 90 basis points with the exclusion of gas and spending on vehicles. Furniture stores were up 1.7 percent, while clothing businesses saw a 2 percent gain. One bit of data bucked the overall consumer spending trend, however: Hobby, musical instrument and book sale stores saw a monthly sales drop of 30 basis points.