The patient is healthy! Retail sales rose a seasonally adjusted 0.1% last month, the Commerce Department said Monday, in a sign that consumer spending might not have softened as much as expected. Economists polled by MarketWatch had forecast a 0.6% decline in retail sales.
Sales at gas stations fell for the second straight month, sinking 4.7% in April to mark the biggest decline in more than five years. That’s good for consumers because it gives them more cash to spend on other goods and services instead of basic necessities.
Excluding gasoline, retail spending actually climbed 0.6% in April. Consumers appeared to use some of their savings at the gas pump to boost spending on autos, electronics, clothes and hobby items, among other things. Auto sales, which account for about one-fifth of retail spending, rose 1.0%. Clothing stores racked up a 1.2% increase, likely reflecting the consumer switchover to spring and summer fashions. And sales at stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s that sell building materials jumped 1.5%. Consumers also increased spending at bars, restaurants and Internet shopping sites. So-called nonstore retailers such as Amazon.com and Lands’ End saw a 1.4% gain in sales….