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Retail Sales: Modest April with Positive Revisions

May 12, 2017
Bottom Line: Positive revisions to March data and a rebound in sales at building materials and garden supply stores, as well as a rebound in auto sales, helped hold the annualized pace of core retail sales ex gas stations over 4%. Core Sales ex-gasoline stations and ex-building materials during April were modestly above its Q1 average, suggesting that Q2 GDP started with a positive contribution from real consumer spending. Still, the 12-month pace is now slower than it was this time last year. And with 3-month averages slower than the 6-month averages, the trend bears watching over the rest of the quarter.

Retail Sales ROSE by 0.4% in April, compared with the market consensus for an increase of 0.6%. The March estimate was revised from -0.2% to 0.1%. Retail sales are now 4.5% ABOVE their year ago level; just a year ago, the year over year growth rate was 2.8%. Spending at motor vehicle dealers climbed by 0.7%.

Core Retail Sales ROSE by 0.3%, compared with the market consensus for an increase 0.5%. The March estimate was revised from 0.0% to 0.3%. Core retail sales are now 4.5% ABOVE their year ago level; just a year ago, the year over year growth rate was 2.9%.

In April, gains at nonstore retailers (+1.4%), building materials (+1.2%), health and personal care (+0.8%), electronic and appliance stores (+1.3%). were partially offset by declines in general merchandise stores (-0.5%), grocery stores (-0.3%), clothing stores (-0.5%), furniture & home furnishing (-0.5%).

Core Retail Sales ex Gasoline ROSE by 0.3% and are now 3.7% ABOVE their year ago level; just a year ago, the year over year growth rate was a moderate 4.2% .