May 15, 2024 - Economy

Charted: April retail sales come in flat

The bar chart shows the percentage change in monthly sales from March to April 2024 for select retail and food service business categories. Gasoline stations saw the highest increase at 3.1%, while nonstore retailers experienced the largest decrease at -1.2%.
Data: U.S. Census Bureau; Chart: Axios Visuals

April retail sales were unchanged from March, according to government data.

Why it matters: That's good news for the 2024 rate-cut hopefuls, but not so much for businesses depending on ready and willing consumers.

Between the lines: Of the 13 main business categories tracked by the commerce department, seven showed negative monthly sales growth in April.

  • Hefty declines were seen for sporting goods, hobby and book stores (-0.9%), motor vehicle and parts dealers (-0.8%), and health and personal care retailers (-0.6%).
  • Stripping away spending on autos and gasoline, total retail and food service sales fell 0.1% from the previous month.

What we're watching: Nonstore retailers (mostly online shopping) saw the biggest decline in April, with sales falling 1.2%, though some attribute that to a pull-forward of demand last month.

Go deeper: Inflation and retail sales reports point to cooler economy

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This story was an excerpt from Axios Closer, a recap on the day's biggest business stories.

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