The Commerce Department reported(.pdf) that retail sales rose far less than expected last month, up just 0.1 percent in April after big upwardly revised gains during the prior two months and a sharp slowdown over the winter.
The consensus of analysts was for a gain of 0.4 percent in the headline figure, but the miss was even worse when excluding automobiles and gasoline as expectations were higher but sales were even lower, flat and down 0.1 percent, respectively.
Sales rose for 8 of the 13 major categories, but big declines in a few groups offset nearly all of the modest gains elsewhere. Sales at both miscellaneous stores and electronics & appliance stores tumbled 2.3 percent while sales at non-store retailers and restaurants & bars both fell 0.9 percent to pace the declining categories.
Clothing store sales rose 1.2 percent, gasoline station receipts were 0.8 percent higher, and automobile sales were up 0.7 percent to lead the rising categories.
If not for the huge upward revision to prior months – the March increase was adjusted up from 1.2 percent to 1.5 percent for the biggest gain in four years and February’s 0.7 percent gain rose to 0.9 percent – this report would have been even worse.