Unseasonably warm weather in February and March and an early Easter holiday shifted consumers' spending appetite last month, though retailers in April still reported positive but modest growth. According to the National Retail Federation, the world's largest retail trade association, April retail sales (excluding automobile, gas stations and restaurants) decreased 0.1 percent seasonally adjusted from March and increased 2.8 percent unadjusted year-over-year, marking 22 consecutive months of retail sales growth.

"Though consumer spending softened in April, retailers overall have seen solid sales growth so far this spring, a positive indicator we're heading in the right direction," said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. "With 22 straight months of sustained retail sales growth, retailers are optimistic as they gear up for the all-important summer shopping season."

April retail sales, released today by the U.S. Department of Commerce, showed total retail sales (which includes non-general merchandise categories such as automobiles, gasoline stations, and restaurants) increased 0.1 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month and 4.5 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

"The expected shortfall in April retail sales reflects the seasonal shift in consumer spending at this time each year," NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. "With Easter a full twenty days earlier this year and unseasonably warm weather, consumers started spending as early as February and March on everything from spring apparel to newly-released electronic items."

Other findings from the April retail sales figures include:

  • Furniture and home furnishing stores' sales increased 0.7 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and 4.9 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Clothing and clothing accessories stores' sales decreased 0.7 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month but increased 1.7 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores' sales increased 0.7 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and 2.9 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers' sales decreased 1.8 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month yet increased 9.8 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Electronics and appliance stores' sales increased 0.2 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and 0.5 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

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