Retail sales rise 7 percent in April

Retail industry sales for April (which exclude automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants) rose a solid 6.9 percent over last year and increased 0.1 percent seasonally adjusted over March, according to the National Retail Federation.

“Thanks in part to a late Easter holiday, consumers were out shopping for a variety of merchandise, including spring apparel,” said NRF chief economist Rosalind Wells. “Although sales in the first half of the year have been stronger than expected, NRF will continue to monitor energy costs and the housing market to determine their impact on spending in the second half.”

April retail sales released today by the U.S. Commerce Department show that total retail sales (which include non-general merchandise categories such as autos, gasoline stations and restaurants) increased 0.5 percent seasonally adjusted from March and increased 6.6 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

Many retailers continued to see strong year-over-year growth, benefiting from a late Easter and favorable weather conditions. General merchandise stores saw healthy gains, with sales increasing 8.1 percent unadjusted over last year.Clothing and clothing accessories stores sales were also strong, rising an unyielding 7.2 percent unadjusted from last April. Health and personal care stores were among the top retail performers with a 6.4 percent increase and sporting goods, hobby, book & music stores were another bright spot, increasing 6.1 percent unadjusted from last year.