Make us your home page
Instagram

Clothing, cars drive boost in retail spending

WASHINGTON — Lower-priced gas allowed Americans to step up their spending at retailers in April, from cars and clothes to electronics and appliances. The rebound from a weak March suggests consumers remain resilient in the face of higher taxes.

Retail sales edged up 0.1 percent in April, the Commerce Department said Monday. That's an improvement from a 0.5 percent decline in March, the largest drop in nine months.

The April gain was stronger when taking out the effect of lower gas prices, which reduced sales at gas stations 4.7 percent. When excluding gas station sales, retail spending rose 0.7 percent. And core retail sales, which exclude gas, autos and building supplies, increased 0.5 percent. Economists pay close attention to core sales because they strip out the most volatile categories.

Sales of autos rose 1 percent in April, rebounding from a 0.6 percent drop in March. Sales at clothing stores increased 1.2 percent and sales at general merchandise stores, a category that covers department stores, rose 1 percent. Sales were also strong at building materials and garden supply stores and electronics and appliance stores.

Consumers increased their spending in April, despite paying higher Social Security taxes that has reduced their paychecks this year. And their spending will likely add to economic growth in the April-June quarter.

"This is a good start to the second quarter," said Jennifer Lee, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets. "The rest of the year is expected to rise further on stronger household finances."

The economy grew at a 2.5 percent annual rate from January through March, up from a 0.4 percent rate in the October-December quarter of 2012. But most of the increase came from greater spending at the start of the quarter. Consumers cut back sharply on retail spending in March, while paying more for utilities to heat their homes during a colder-than-usual month. The economy added 165,000 jobs in April and has created an average of 208,000 jobs a month since November. That's well above the monthly average of 138,000 for the previous six months.

A surging stock market and increases in home prices may be making consumers feel wealthier and more inclined to spend.

Most economists still expect growth to weaken slightly in the April-June quarter. But after seeing the more upbeat retail sales figures for April, some are raising their forecasts. Analysts at JPMorgan now predict growth will slow to a 2 percent rate, up from their previous forecast of 1.5 percent. And many expect economic growth will strengthen in the second half of the year.

What we bought

Overall U.S. retail sales rose 0.1 percent in April compared to a year earlier. Here's a look at the sales change in some key sectors:

CLOTHING STORES

+1.2%

GENERAL MERCHANDISE

+1%

AUTOS

+1%

GAS STATIONS

-4.7%

What we bought

Overall U.S. retail sales rose 0.1 percent in April compared to a year earlier. Here's a look at the sales change in some key sectors:

CLOTHING STORES

+1.2%

GENERAL MERCHANDISE

+1%

AUTOS

+1%

GAS STATIONS

-4.7%

Inventories

U.S. businesses left their stockpiles unchanged in March for a second straight month, while their sales fell sharply. The Commerce Department said Monday that business stockpiles showed no increase in March while sales fell 1.1 percent in March, offsetting a 1 percent gain in February. A lack of inventory building could slow economic growth because it means businesses are ordering fewer factory-made goods.

Clothing, cars drive boost in retail spending 05/13/13 [Last modified: Monday, May 13, 2013 11:24pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tampa International Airport morphing into a mini-city unto itself

    Airlines

    TAMPA — By the end of the 2026, Joe Lopano wants Tampa International Airport to function as its own little city.

    Artist rendering of phase two of the $1 billion construction expansion of Tampa International Airport. The airport is transforming 17 acres of airport property that will include at least one hotel, retail and office space and a gas station, among other things.
[Courtesy of Tampa International Airport]
  2. Lost Highway: As FHP struggles to recruit, speeding tickets plummet

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — The number of speeding tickets written by Florida state troopers has plunged three straight years as the agency grapples with a personnel shortage and high turnover.

    A Florida Highway Patrol Academy class in the late 1980s. Typically, graduating classes had about 80 recruits. But the most recent class has less than half that as the agency continues to struggle to fill vacancies. [

Florida: Highway Patrol]
  3. Kidpreneurs — and adults — capitalize on gooey, squishy Slime craze

    Retail

    First it was Play-Doh. Then Gak. There have been dozens of variations for sale of the oozy, gooey, squishable, stretchable kids' toy through the generations.

    Aletheia Venator and Berlyn Perdomo demonstrate the stretchiness of their slime. - Berlyn Perdomo and her friend, Aletheia Venator, both 13, make and sell slime which can be seen on their instagram site @the.real.slimeshadyy [JIM DAMASKE   |   Times]
  4. The last farmer of Florida's prized Zellwood corn is thinking of packing it in

    Consumer

    MOUNT DORA — Hank Scott steps out of his pickup between the long rows and snaps off an ear that grows about bellybutton-high on the forehead-high stalks.

    Hank Scott, co-owner of Long and Scott Farms, shucks an ear of corn on the farm in Mount Dora, Fla., on Wednesday, May 10, 2017. The farm specializes in Scott's Zellwood Triple-Sweet Gourmet Corn. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  5. Law firm's Russia ties prove nothing about Trump

    Business

    The statement

    "Law firm @POTUS used to show he has no ties to Russia was named Russia Law Firm of the Year for their extensive ties to Russia. Unreal."

    Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., stands during a media availability on Capitol Hill, Monday, June 20, 2016 in Washington. A divided Senate blocked rival election-year plans to curb guns on Monday, eight days after the horror of Orlando's mass shooting intensified pressure on lawmakers to act but knotted them in gridlock anyway — even over restricting firearms for terrorists. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)