May 15 (UPI) -- Retail sales declined slightly in April, particularly at auto dealers and electronics stores, the U.S. Census Bureau reported Wednesday.
Overall, sales fell 0.2 percent in April compared to the previous month, the opposite of what economists predicted. Vehicle sales fell 1.1 percent as new car sales declined. Sales declined at electronic stores by 1.3 percent. Home improvement and garden stores had a 1.9 percent drop.
Sales did increase at gas stations by 1.8 percent as fuel prices rose.
The first quarter was the weakest quarter for consumer spending in a year, a sign that Americans are being more thrifty in 2019 than 2018. Economists, who predicted a 0.1 percent increase in sales in April, blame slower business investment, weaker manufacturing and the tariff war with China for the drop.
There is some good news, though. Total sales for February 2019 through April 2019 were up 3 percent compared to the same period last year.