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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

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%.
Data: U.S. Census Bureau; Chart: Axios Visuals

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.

Go deeper

Travel bookings are surging as vaccines unleash pent-up demand

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Multiple indicators now show how pent-up travel demand is playing out, as the U.S. exits lockdown mode.

Why it matters: Close to half of all Americans have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, enabling a growing economic recovery in the hard-hit travel and leisure sectors.

4 hours ago - World

Canada First Nation finds mass grave at another school site

A memorial around the Centennial Flame on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, on June 4, honoring 215 Indigenous children found buried in an unmarked, mass grave at a one-time residential school in Kamloops, British Columbia. Photo: David Kawai/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A First Nation in Canada said Wednesday "hundreds" of unmarked graves have been discovered at the site of a former residential school in the prairie province of Saskatchewan.

Of note: The Cowessess First Nation said in a statement the number of graves found are "the most significantly substantial to date in Canada" — suggesting it's more than the remains of 215 Indigenous children discovered last month at a former residential school site in Kamloops, British Columbia.

Biden replaces FHFA director after Supreme Court ruling

Mark Calabria, then-director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, during a Senate hearing on Capitol Hill in 2020. Photo: Astrid Riecken/ Pool/Getty Images

The White House on Wednesday replaced the regulator who oversees mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, hours after a Supreme Court ruling enabled President Biden to oust the Trump appointee.

Why it matters: The removal of libertarian economist Mark Calabria as Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) director gives Biden more control over the fate of Freddie and Fannie, "which play an outsize role in the housing market and are central to many homeowners' ability to afford homes," per the New York Times.