Retail Auto Sales Slow, Gasoline Sales Soar in April: Census Bureau

U.S. consumer spending increased by 4.7% year over year to $497.6 billion in April, as well as up by 0.3% month over month from an upwardly revised March total of $496.1 billion. The U.S. Census Bureau released its estimated retail sales data for April Tuesday morning. A poll of economists had forecast that retail sales would rise 0.3% compared with sales in March.

Sales of motor vehicles rose 0.2% month over month and rose 4.8% compared with April 2017. Car sales totaled $94.15 billion last month on an adjusted basis, up from $93.99 billion in March and from $89.88 billion in April 2017. In March, auto sales rose 2% compared to February sales.

Total sales for the four-month period between January and April rose 4% compared with year-ago totals.

Retail trade sales rose 0.4% month over month and jumped 4.8% year over year. Nonstore retail sales rose 9.6% year over year. Month over month, nonstore retail sales rose 0.6%.

Gasoline station sales rose 0.8% month over month and were 11.7% higher year over year. The increase is due largely to higher pump prices. Gas sales totaled about $4.4 billion more in April than in the same month last year and accounted for 20% of total year-over-year spending growth.

Electronics stores posted a sales decrease of 0.1% month over month and a year-over-year increase of 1.7% in sales. Department stores posted a month-over-month sales increase of 0.2% and a year-over-year decline of 1.6%.

Sales of building materials and garden supplies rose 0.4% month over month and were 4.4% higher year over year.

Food services and bar sales slipped by 0.3% month over month but are up 3.8% year over year.

Sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores posted a month-over-month sales drop of 0.1% and a year-over-year drop of 1.1%.

Clothing stores posted the largest month-over-month gain, 1.4%, and have added 4.1% year to date compared to April 2017.

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