Retail sales increase in April
May 24, 2017 Tom Sanderson

Retail sales increase in April

The U.S. Bureau of the Census reported that seasonally adjusted real retail and food service sales were up slightly (+0.2%) at $194.5 billion in April. (Note that actual sales are deflated using CPI 1982 – 1984 = 100). April sales were 2.2% higher than the prior-year period.

Nominal (unadjusted for inflation) seasonally-adjusted retail sales totaled $474.9 billion in April (second graph), also up slightly (+0.4%) from prior month, and up 4.5% from prior year results. Total nominal sales were up 3.3% for the full year 2016.

The results were below consensus expectations but March was revised upward. Nominal retail and food services sales excluding gasoline were up 0.4% year-over-year. Nonstore retailer sales (e-commerce and mail order) were up 11.9%. Gasoline station sales were up 12.3% year-over-year, a reversal from most of 2016 when full-year sales were down 6.3%. Department stores sales fell by 3.7% year-over-year, while sporting goods, hobby and book store sales fell by 2.4%. We focus primarily on real retail sales because they are a better indicator of freight volumes than the inflated figures.

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