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Economy in Brief

U.S. Retail Sales Jump
by Tom Moeller May 12, 2005

US retail sales jumped 1.4% last month following an upwardly revised 0.4% gain in March. Consensus expectations had been for a 0.7% April increase.

Excluding motor vehicles sales rose 1.1%, also twice the Consensus expectation.That followed a 0.2% March gain revised up slightly from the initial estimate of 0.1%. Nonauto retail sales less gasoline in April rose 1.0% (6.8% y/y) following a slight decline in March. Gasoline service station sales surged 1.9% (19.8% y/y).

A 1.2% (7.4% y/y) rise in building material store sales led last month's rise in spending, for the second month.

Spending on discretionary items was mixed. General merchandise store sales surged 1.5% (7.4% y/y) after falling 0.7% in March and apparel store sales recovered 2.8% (7.9% y/y) following the prior month's 2.2% decline. Furniture and electronics sales, however, fell slightly (+4.1% y/y) for the second consecutive month.

Sales of nonstore retailers (internet and catalogue) rose 0.4% (12.4% y/y) following a 1.8% March jump.

  April March Y/Y 2004 2003 2002
Retail Sales & Food Services 1.4% 0.4% 8.6% 7.3% 4.3% 2.5%
  Excluding Autos 1.1% 0.2% 8.1% 8.3% 4.7% 3.3%
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