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US Retail Sales Sluggish Without Stimulus Spark

May 19, 2021 6:01 AM   By Rapaport News
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US retail sales were flat in April as consumer spending slowed following stimulus-driven purchasing the previous month, the National Retail Federation (NRF) said.

Revenue was unchanged over March’s figure and rose 51% year on year, reflecting coronavirus-related store closures during April 2020, according to data the US Census Bureau reported last week. By contrast, March saw a 10% month-on-month increase.

“In March, we saw a surge in spending as stimulus checks came in, and that spending declined slightly in April,” said NRF CEO Matthew Shay.

Sales fell versus the previous month in six of the nine categories the US Census Bureau monitors. The clothing and accessories segment — which includes jewelry — dropped 5%, while online sales slipped 1%.

However, the NRF believes sales will remain strong heading into the summer, as more consumers receive vaccinations and begin to return to work, it noted.

“The economy and consumer spending have proven to be much more resilient than many feared a year ago,” added NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz. “Consumers may have tapped the brakes slightly in April compared with March, but it was like going from 100 mph [miles per hour] 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.”

Image: A sparsely populated US mall. (Shutterstock)
Tags: Jack Kleinhenz, Matthew Shay, National Retail Federation, NRF, Rapaport News, US Census Bureau, US retail sales
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