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Retail Sales Fell Back in April

With consumers cutting back even on necessities such as gas and groceries, the U.S. Commerce Department reported last week that April sales slipped 0.4% seasonally adjusted from March and dropped 9.4% on a year-over-year basis.

The National Retail Federation said retail industry sales — excluding autos, gas and restaurants — fell 0.4% seasonally adjusted from March and 1.7% from April 2008.

"A depressed labor market and lack of consumer confidence continues to play a role in what people buy and how much they spend," said Rosalind Wells, chief economist for NRF. "Noticeable changes in consumer spending will take some time as the economy continues to rebuild itself through the rest of the year."

Sales at building material, garden equipment and supplies dealers increased 0.3% seasonally adjusted from March but sank 10.5% unadjusted year-over-year.

Sporting goods, hobby, book and music store sales increased 0.3% seasonally adjusted month-to-month but decreased 2.4% unadjusted over last April.

Health and personal care store sales picked up 0.4% seasonally adjusted month-to-month and 5.4% unadjusted year-over-year.

But seasonally adjusted, sales fell electronic and appliance stores (-2.8% from March and -11.9% unadjusted from last year); clothing and clothing accessories stores -0.5 percent month-to-month and -3.0% unadjusted year-over-year); and grocery stores -1.1% from March but up 0.5% year-over-year).

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