The U.S. Census Bureau’s advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for April 2024, adjusted for seasonal variation, holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $705.2 billion, virtually unchanged (±0.4 percent) from March 2024, but up 3.0 percent (±0.5 percent) above April 2023.

The U.S. Census Bureau said overall retail sales in April, excluding food service, gas, autos, and tires, were flat seasonally adjusted from March (MoM) and up 2.7 percent unadjusted year-over-year (YoY). That compared with increases of 0.8 percent MoM and 3.5 percent YoY in March. The year-over-year increase was due partly to recent downward revisions to 2023 data.

Non-store retailers were up 7.5 percent (±1.6 percent) from last year.

April’s core retail sales, as defined by the National Retail Federation (NRF), based on the U.S. Census Bureau’s data but excluding auto dealers, gas stations and restaurants, were reported to be down 0.2 percent seasonally adjusted from March but up 3.9 percent unadjusted year-over-year. Core retail sales were up 3.8 percent YoY for the first four months of the year, which aligns with the NRF’s forecast for 2024 retail sales to grow between 2.5 percent and 3.5 percent over 2023.

  • Sporting Goods, Hobby, Musical Instruments, and Bookstore sales were reported down 4.7 percent YoY from April 2023 and down 0.9 percent versus March 2024.
  • General Merchandise Store sales were up 3.7 percent YoY.
  • Department Stores were down 1.2 percent YoY.
  • Clothing & Clothing Accessories Stores sales were up 2.7 percent YoY.
  • Electronics & Appliance Stores sales inched up 0.8 percent Y0Y.

These numbers are unadjusted for inflation, measured via the Consumer Price Index (CPI) at 3.4 percent for April over the prior-year comparative period.

Monthly CPI Increase Moderates
The CPI rose 0.3 percent MoM in April after growing 0.4 percent in March and February, the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics said on Mary 15, 2024. Apparel prices, which includes footwear, reportedly increased 1.2 percent month-over-month in April, only surpassed by gas and auto insurance.

Shelter costs, which includes rent, increased 0.4 percent MoM for the third straight month. Gas prices shot up 2.8 percent MoM. These two categories contributed over 70 percent of the increase in the CPI for the month.

Economists polled by Reuters forecasted the CPI would gain 0.4 percent MoM and 3.4 percent YoY. The annual increase in consumer prices slowed from a peak of 9.1 percent in June 2022.

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