dglobalnews.com US retail sales rebounded in April after sluggish winter
Published: Sat, May 13, 2017
Markets | By Armando Jensen

US retail sales rebounded in April after sluggish winter

US retail sales rebounded in April after sluggish winter

Sales at department stores fell 0.2 percent.

Total sales for the February 2017 through April 2017 period were up 4.7% from the same period a year ago. March's estimate was revised from down 0.2% to up 0.1%.

Adding to retailers' problems, an unusually warm February hurt sales of winter wear, while a delay in tax refunds in the same month crimped spending in the February-April quarter.

Retail sales represent somewhere around two-thirds of all economic activity, and that U.S. retail sales contribute around 14 percent, or $2.6 trillion to U.S. GDP. Plus there are "vastly more options for time [and] money use than 10 years ago", according to the Retail Metrics report, and social media is providing just one of the experiences that younger consumers prefer over the accumulation of goods. That is a major number and clearly can not be overlooked, especially when looking at how closely connected retail and consumer activity is tied to the freight transportation and logistics sectors on so many fronts, including trucking, intermodal, parcel, ocean, air, and e-commerce.

The U.S. economy stumbled in early 2017. Household outlays on both goods and services expanded at a 0.3% pace in the first three months of the year, the weakest quarterly reading since late 2009.

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Consumer confidence has soared since the presidential election, but spending hasn't increased as much as the jump in optimism would suggest.

Non-store retailers-which is what the bureau calls Internet sales-were up 1.4 percent for the month, which is consistent with growth for that kind of retail. Year-over-year core sales increased 4.5%.

Department, chain and discount stores saw their sales drop by 4.1% year over year, to $12.6 billion.

Spending was uneven across other categories last month. Even department stores eked out a 0.2 percent gain for the month, though they suffered a 3.7 percent decline for the year. Sales were up at gasoline stations and building-materials stores, but fell at furniture and clothing stores.

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