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Did April’s US Retail Sales Report Fail to Impress?

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May. 16 2019, Published 4:11 p.m. ET

April retail sales data release

On May 15, the US Census Bureau announced advance estimates for US retail and food service sales for April 2019. The results were slightly disappointing for the month. Of 13 reporting categories, six reported month-over-month decreases. The US retail trade fell 0.2% month-over-month in April and was below market expectations of a 0.2% increase.

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  • motor vehicle and parts dealers, down 1.1% month-over-month after a 3.2% increase in March 2019 and 2.2% increase year-over-year
  • building material stores, down 1.9% month-over-month after a 0.8% increase in March 2019 and 1.2% increase year-over-year
  • electronics and appliances stores, down 1.3% month-over-month after a 1.2% increase in March 2019 and down 4.3% year-over-year
  • health and personal care stores, down 0.2% month-over-month after a 0.6% increase in March 2019 and 3.6% increase year-over-year
  • clothing stores, down 0.2% month-over-month after a 2.1% increase in March 2019 and 0.2% increase year-over-year
  • non-store retailers, down 0.2% month-over-month after a 1.0% increase in March 2019 and 9.0% increase year-over-year

Five other categories increased in April:

  • gas stations, up 1.8% month-over-month after a 3.3% increase in March 2019 and 4.9% increase year-over-year
  • hobby, musical instrument, and book stores, up 0.2% month-over-month after a 0.3% decline in March 2019 and 8.5% decrease year-over-year
  • restaurants and bars, up 0.2% month-over-month after a 1.0% increase in March 2019 and 5.7% increase year-over-year
  • food and beverage stores, up 0.2% month-over-month after a 1.5% increase in March 2019 and 2.0% increase year-over-year
  • general merchandise stores, up 0.2% month-over-month after a 0.7% increase in March 2019 and a 2.7% increase year-over-year

Despite the decline in retail sales in most categories for April, the S&P 500 Consumer Discretionary Index (XLY) closed on May 15 with a marginal gain of 0.78%. The S&P 500 Consumer Staples Index (XLP) rose 0.80%. The SPDR S&P Retail ETF (XRT) was, however, down 0.2%.

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