Washington D.C. Retail sales are still sluggish, however, chains saw their biggest month-to-month increase in April, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF).
April retail sales released by the U.S. Commerce Department on Tuesday revealed that total retail sales, excluding automobiles, gas stations and restaurants, increased by 2.3% over last year, and rose 0.6% on a month-to-month basis. (When including non-general merchandise like autos, gas stations and restaurants, sales increased 2.6% year-over-year, but declined 0.2% over last month.)
“While it’s apparent that consumers are still holding back, the spring season helped get people back into stores,” said NRF chief economist, Rosalind Wells. “The month-to-month sales increase was the largest we’ve seen since last November, a much welcomed reprieve.”
Necessity-type purchases are the strongest. That said, sales in health and beauty care stores increased 3.1% compared to last year. These sales were up 0.4% from last month.
The onset of spring-like weather is credited for sales increases across building material, garden equipment and supplies stores—the first increase this category has seen in months. Sales jumped 1.2% vs. last year; they increased 1.9% compared to March.
Sales across sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores rose 4.7% compared to 2007, and they were up 0.4% compared to last month.
Electronics and appliance stores sales increased 5.1% from last year and 1.4% since March. Clothing and accessories stores sales increased 0.5% compared to last year, and 0.7% from last month.