April Sales, Retail Job Gains Disappoint
April retail sales for apparel and accessories stores were virtually flat compared to March (up 0.2%) and edged up 0.7% over April last year according to the National Retail Federation (NRF).
“April retail sales, similar to March, were affected positively and negatively by the Easter-calendar shift,” said NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz. “It appears that the ‘Easter effect’ was muted. Taken together, consumer spending on a year-over-year basis was anemic.”
He added, “It looks like there were more sales conducted at much lower prices. Consumers took advantage of the low cost of goods and merchandise. Consequently, flat retail sales numbers may not truly show the health or strength of consumer spending.”
In a separate announcement, the NRF noted that while overall retail employment was up by nearly 10,000 jobs in April, “softness was seen in clothing, department and sporting goods stores.”