U.S. retail sales in April held steady after strong showings in March that were attributed to the arrival of stimulus payments.
According to Washington D.C.-based National Retail Federation (NRF), retail sales in April dipped slightly by 1.3%, but were still up by 28.8% from April 2020.
“The economy and consumer spending have proven to be much more resilient than many feared a year ago,” said Jack Kleninhenz, chief economist at NRF in a statement. “Consumers may have tapped the brakes slightly in April compared with March, but it was like going from 100 mph to 85 mph compared with last year. The fuel from stimulus checks gave a strong boost to spending in March and the fact that April numbers are very close shows spending is clearly going forward and still strong.”
In the grocery and beverage retail sector, sales edged up 0.4% seasonally adjusted from the previous month and 0.3% unadjusted from the previous year. General online and other non-store sales slowed 0.6% month-over-month seasonally adjusted but climbed 14.8% unadjusted year-over-year. Meanwhile, general merchandise saw a 4.9% decline from March to April, NRF reports.
NRF President Matthew Shay says these numbers bode well for future months as the pace of regular life returns. “Consumers are demonstrating that when they feel safe, they are both willing and able to spend and are driving the economy forward. The CDC’s updated guidance for fully vaccinated individuals will help further open the economy and get more people back to work. Retailers will continue to follow coronavirus-related laws and regulations governing store operations in each state and we urge lawmakers and government officials to prioritize policies that both encourage work and continued safety,” Shay remarked.