Car sales put the brakes on retail numbers

Don Hogsett, May 17, 2004

Hurt by falling car sales, retail sales in April slipped a deeper than expected 0.5 percent from March levels, to a seasonally adjusted $331.8 billion, the Commerce Department reported.

But in a strong signal that the economy is improving and consumers are spending more freely, retail sales jumped 8 percent from April of 2003. Sales for the three-month period — February through April — climbed 8.3 percent from year-before levels.

Skewing the month-over-month figures a bit, and making the comparison with March more difficult, March retail sales were revised upward to a gain of 2 percent from a previously reported 1.8 percent, the agency said.

Taking a toll on the overall retail figure was a big 1.8 percent drop in car sales. Pull that number out of the equation, and sales for the remaining retail universe declined at a far more moderate pace of just 0.1 percent.

Taking big hits, in addition to cars, were apparel retailers, where sales fell 2 percent; and department stores, with sales skidding 1.7 percent. Do-it-yourselfers were otherwise engaged during the month, and sales at building materials and garden supply outlets tumbled 0.7 percent.

Other home-related goods did well, however, and sales in furniture and home furnishings stores climbed 0.7 percent, building on a 1.2 percent gain in March. Sales in electronics and appliances outlets climbed 0.8 percent, improving on a 0.2 percent increase in March.

Retail sales in April (by channel)

Sporting goods, hobby, books & music +1.1%
Non-store retailers +1.0
Electronics & appliances stores +0.8
Furniture & home furnishings stores. +0.7
Grocery stores +0.4
Gas stations +0.2
Clothing & accessories stores. -2.0%
Car dealers -1.8
Department stores -1.7
Building material & garden supplies stores -0.7
Restaurants & bars -0.1
Health & personal care stores -0.1
Source: U.S. Department of Commerce

Featured Video

  • Live From New York: Fashion Comes Across the Pond

    Camera Icon More Videos

Subscribe to
Home & Textiles Today eDaily
Receive the news you need to know about the trends in the industry delivered right to your inbox.


HTT Cover October 2017

See the October 2017 issue of Home & Textiles Today. In this issue, we look at the Top 25 Online Retailers.  H&TT's exclusive annual ranking of the biggest online sellers of home textiles finds that while pure play etailers continue to fly, bricks & clicks are digging into omnichannel. See details!