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April Retail Sales By the Numbers

The April retail sales numbers are out, and the results aren’t much different from March.

The $419.2 billion U.S. retailers sold is last month is just a tick higher than the previous month. However, it’s a $15 billion improvement from the $404.27 billion in retail sales last April – a 3.7% increase.

Here are some other key numbers from the April retail sales report:

  • Gas station spending hit its lowest level in nine months, a reflection of lower gas prices. Average U.S. gas prices dipped to $3.48 a gallon late last month – the cheapest it’s been early February. That could change this month as oil prices have risen 11% since mid-April.
  • Automobile sales continue to rise. Sales of cars and car parts increased 1% from March and 7.7% from last April – another sign of the improving health of the U.S. auto industry just four years removed for the federal auto bailout.
  • Spending at grocery stores declined, hitting its lowest level since January.

Though the April retail sales gains were modest (+0.1%), they were better than the 0.3% decline that was expected. That did little to propel markets forward today – the Dow was down 0.2%, while the S&P 500 was basically flat. However, with stocks already near record highs, only a vastly improved retail sales report would have likely triggered another big jump.

For now, the status quo is a welcome one on Wall Street.

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