April growth modest but sustains pattern
Retail Editor 3 -- Home Textiles Today, May 15, 2012
Washington - Although sales were somewhat soft, April marked the 22nd consecutive month of year-over-over sales growth, according to the National Retail Federation.
An earlier Easter than last year pushed some holiday spending into March, and April sales were down 0.1% seasonally adjusted from March. Year-over-year, April sales rose 2.8%.
Sales at furniture and home furnishings stores were up 4.9% year-over-year - second in growth to only building materials stores, where sales were up 9.8%. Sales rose 2.9% at sporting goods/hobby/books/music stores, 1.7% at clothing and accessories stores, and 0.5% at electronics and appliance stores.
"Though consumer spending softened in April, retailers overall have seen solid sales growth so far this spring, a positive indicator we're heading in the right direction," said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. "With 22 straight months of sustained retail sales growth, retailers are optimistic as they gear up for the all-important summer shopping season."
The U.S. Department of Commerce today reported a 4.5% increase year-over-year for total retail sales (including non-general merchandise categories such as automobiles, gasoline stations, and restaurants). Month-over-month, Commerce puts the increase at 0.1%.
"The expected shortfall in April retail sales reflects the seasonal shift in consumer spending at this time each year," said NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz. "With Easter a full twenty days earlier this year and unseasonably warm weather, consumers started spending as early as February and March on everything from spring apparel to newly-released electronic items."