Retail sales flat in April after huge surge in March
April retail sales in the U.S. were unchanged from March, which saw a surge revised up to 10.7%, according to the latest Commerce Department report published Friday.
Why it matters: The U.S. has been entering a period of growing optimism in the wake of the vaccine rollout, falling new COVID-19 cases and deaths, and a slowly recovering labor market. Retail sales were up 51% year-over-year compared to April 2020.
By the numbers: Demand for goods fell as pent-up demand for services propelled spending for dining and drinking.
- Growth was flat following March's revised 10.7% monthly gain — the biggest uptick in 10 months, driven in part by government stimulus.
- Auto and restaurant sales were strong in April, both growing around 3%. Without auto growth, overall retail sales were down almost 1%.
- Physical store sales and clothing store sales dropped 5%.
What to watch: The combination of stimulus checks, extended unemployment benefits, upcoming tax refunds and stockpiled savings looks to be a powerful accelerant for retail sales in the coming summer, back-to-work and back-to-school months.
- At the same time, more Americans are concerned about rising prices and have said they would cut back on purchases.