Car sales put the brakes on retail numbers
May 17, 2004-- Home Textiles Today,
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%|
|Electronics & appliances stores||+0.8|
|Furniture & home furnishings stores.||+0.7|
|Clothing & accessories stores.||-2.0%|
|Building material & garden supplies stores||-0.7|
|Restaurants & bars||-0.1|
|Health & personal care stores||-0.1|
|Source: U.S. Department of Commerce|