Consumers Reject Recession Talk as April Retail Sales Rise

Despite the continuous drumbeat of an economy slinking slowly into a recession, consumers don’t seem to buy it. Retail sales bounced back in April, showing month-over-month and year-over-year growth, the National Retail Federation reported.

“Retail sales rebounded in April, reflecting consumer resilience in the face of elevated economic uncertainty,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Moderating price levels, continued labor market strength and wage gains have increased consumers’ ability to spend.

“However, they remain cautious and concerned about the current economic environment,” he added. “Retailers continue to provide competitive pricing and convenience to help cost-sensitive consumers stretch their budgets.”

NRF’s Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenze said consumers remain engaged. “Shoppers are being selective and price-sensitive, but we continue to expect that spending will see modest gains through the course of the year. Year-over-year growth slowed, which was partly because of upward revisions to last year’s data but also an early indication that credit conditions are tightening, and excess savings are shrinking.”

The U.S. Census Bureau reported overall retail sales in April were up 0.4 percent from March and up 1.6 percent year over year. In March, sales were down 0.7 percent month over month but up 2.4 percent year over year.

NRF’s calculation of retail sales – which excludes automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants to focus on core retail – showed April was up 0.6 percent from March and up 2 percent unadjusted year over year.

NRF’s numbers were up 3.7 percent unadjusted year over year on a three-month moving average as of April.

April sales were up in four out of nine retail categories on a yearly basis, led by online sales, health and personal care stores and general merchandise stores, and also rose in four categories on a monthly basis.
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