Retail sales in the United State edged slightly higher in April after falling the month before, but analysts say the gains are broad-based.
The U.S. Commerce Department reports a 0.1% increase after declining 0.5% in March, which was the largest drop in nine months. The increase in April was the best in four months, minus sales of fuel.
Helping the turn around from March was a decline in fuel prices, allowing consumers to increase spending in other areas such as clothes, appliances and electronics. Nine of 13 major retail sales categories showed gains in April, led by a 1.2% hike at clothing stores, the biggest in more than a year. Core retail sales, which exclude fuel, auto and building materials, increased 0.5%. Sales of autos increased 1% in April, after falling 0.6% in March.
The performance beat out a consensus forecast of economists who were predicting a 0.3% drop. There was overall anticipation that the number would fall again following the March drop because workers are taking home less money due to higher Social Security taxes that kicked in the first of the year. Now some economists are revising their forecasts of economic growth in the second quarter of the year to be slightly higher than earlier.
U.S. economic growth was 2.5% in the first quarter of the year, up from a rate of 0.4% in the final quarter of last year.