Retail Sales Flat in April, Below Expectations

The Census Bureau's Advance Retail Sales Report for April revealed headline sales were flat in April. The latest reading was below the expected 0.4% monthly rise in consumer spending.

For an inflation-adjusted perspective on retail sales, take a look at our Real Retail Sales commentary.

Retail Sales Month Over Month

Here is the introduction from today's report:

Advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for April 2024, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $705.2 billion, virtually unchanged (±0.4 percent)* from the previous month, but up 3.0 percent (±0.5 percent) above April 2023. Total sales for the February 2024 through April 2024 period were up 3.0 percent (±0.5 percent) from the same period a year ago. The February 2024 to March 2024 percent change was revised from up 0.7 percent (±0.5 percent) to up 0.6 percent (±0.1 percent).

Retail trade sales were virtually unchanged (±0.4 percent)* from March 2024, but up 2.7 percent (±0.5 percent) above last year. Nonstore retailers were up 7.5 percent (±1.6 percent) from last year, while food services and drinking places were up 5.5 percent (±2.1 percent) from April 2023.