Recent Updates

  • Luxembourg: Bank Interest Rates (Oct)
  • US: International Trade (Oct)
  • Euro area: PEPP Detail, ECB Balance Sheet (Nov)
  • Canada: International Trade (Oct), Ivey PMI (Nov)
  • US: Imports & Exports by State (Oct)
  • more updates...

Economy in Brief

U.S. Retail Sales Posted Solid Rise in April
by Sandy Batten  May 17, 2022

• Slightly stronger-than-expected gain with significant upward revisions.

• Strong start to Q2 with April sales 10% annualized above Q1 average.

• Solid increases across many major categories.

Notwithstanding falling real incomes and declining confidence measures, consumer spending posted a solid increase in April, rising a slightly larger-than-expected 0.9% m/m (+8.2% y/y) following an upwardly revised 1.4% monthly increase in March (initially 0.7% m/m). The Action Economics Forecast Survey had looked for a 0.8% m/m rise.

Sales excluding motor vehicle sales increased 0.6% m/m (10.9% y/y) in April versus an upwardly revised 2.1% m/m increase in March (initially 1.4%). The Action Economics Survey had expected a 0.4% monthly gain. Motor vehicle sales rebounded in April, rising 2.2% m/m to more than offset a 1.6% m/m decline in March. The supply chain issues holding back auto production appear to be improving at least a little. Gasoline prices fell in April. Accordingly, sales at gasoline stations declined 2.7% m/m (+36.9% y/y) in April for only their second monthly decline in the past year. Sales excluding motor vehicles and gasoline increased 1.0% m/m in April after 1.2% monthly gains in March and February.

Sales in the retail control group, which excludes autos, gas stations, building materials and food services and is used in the construction of personal consumption expenditures in the NIPAs, rose a solid 1.0% m/m, the fourth consecutive monthly increase. The April level for the control group is more than 7% annualized above the Q1 average, indicating a strong start to Q2 for consumer spending.

Sales by category were generally solid. Spending remained firm for furniture (+0.7%) and electronics and appliances (+1.0%). Apparel stores posted yet another strong increase (+0.8%). General merchandise was little changed (+0.2%) after ups and downs over the prior four months. Restaurants posted a 2.0% rise on top of March's 1.9% advance, as people's appetite for going out continues its journey back to normal. By contrast, sales at grocery stores eased down 0.2% m/m while sales of building materials slipped 0.1% m/m.

Of note, the wide swings previously reported for nonstore sales were mostly revised away with this category posting solid monthly increases in each of the past four months, punctuated by a strong 2.1% m/m gain in April.

The retail sales data can be found in Haver's USECON database. The Action Economics forecast is in the AS1REPNA database.

large image