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Retail sales rise less than expected in April after falling in March

Retail sales rose 0.4% in April, the Commerce Department reported. File photo by Aaron M. Sprecher/UPI
1 of 3 | Retail sales rose 0.4% in April, the Commerce Department reported. File photo by Aaron M. Sprecher/UPI | License Photo

May 16 (UPI) -- Retail sales increased in April, beating figures in March but still fell short of what Wall Street anticipated, the Commerce Department said in its advance report on monthly sales released Tuesday.

The seasonally adjusted retail and food service sales for April were $686.1 billion, an increase of 0.4% from March. April's increase follows a 0.7% decrease in sales in March.

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The report said the total sales over the three-month period from February to April marked a 3.1% increase from the same period in 2022.

Dow Jones analysts expected April sales to increase by 0.8%. Sales figures that excluded auto-related items met forecasts with an increase of 0.4%.

The report said retail trade sales improved by about 0.4% from March and 0.5% from April 2022. Non-store retailers increased 8% from last year, while food services and drinking places were up 9.4% from April 2022. "As the labor market continues to cool and the drag from the Fed's aggressive monetary tightening feeds through, we suspect a further slowdown lies ahead," said Andrew Hunter, deputy chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics, according to CNBC.

Over the first four months of the year, sales at food service and drinking places have improved by 14.5%, non-store retailers increased by 7.4%, and health and personal care stores by 7.2%. Sales at gasoline stations saw the biggest drop over the first four months by 6.9%, reflecting prices falling from historic highs in 2022 at the dawn of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

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For the past month, miscellaneous store retailers gained 2.4%, while online sales rose 1.2% and health and personal care retailers saw a 0.9% boost.

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