U.S. retail sales increased in April, contrary to market expectations, reflecting broad-based gains that may ease concerns consumer spending is weakening. Compared to the previous month, purchases rose 0.1%, while analysts had anticipated another 0.3% decline, following a revised 0.5% drop (initial estimate -0.4%) in March.
Excluding automobiles, sales fell 0.1% in April, after a 0.4% slump in the month before. Lower fuel costs combined with rising stock and home values are helping boost private household’s buying power. Nine of 13 categories showed gains last month, led by a 1.2% advance at clothing stores, the biggest in more than a year, the Commerce Department figures showed. Excluding autos, gasoline and building materials, which are the figures used to calculate gross domestic product, sales climbed 0.5%, after a 0.1% increase in the previous month.