Retails sales grew by a sluggish 0.1 percent over the previous month, according to the U.S. Commerce Department. Economists surveyed by the The Wall Street Journal had expected a healthier 0.4 percent growth. Excluding the volatile measure of auto and auto parts sales, the figures were pretty stagnant.
The Commerce Department revised March's figure to reflect a 1.5 percent increase in sales as compared to 1.1 percent reported earlier.
March's growth was the highest in four years and expectations were high that April would mark the beginning of a second quarter rebound after the first quarter was plagued with bad weather. Consumer spending accounts for two-thirds of the U.S. economic output.
Spending on furniture and electronic stores fell sharply, while spending on groceries showed a little growth. Clothing sales were the one sector to show any significant growth, with a 1.2 percent increase in sales.
Increases in hiring and rising payrolls suggested that consumer spending would pick up in the spring, giving the economy the much needed boost, after the government reported a below-par 0.1 percent growth in the GDP for the first quarter.