Retail Sales increased 0.5% for April 2011 and are up 7.6% from the same time last year. March retail sales percentage change was +0.9%, revised.
Gas jumped 2.7% from last month and is up 21.8% from a year ago. Food and drink increased 1.2%, with groceries increasing 1.5% in April. Grocery retail sales are up 6.8% from a year ago. Nonstore retailers increased 1.0% but are up 15.5% from a year ago.
The report implies people are having to pay more and more for gas and food and it's hurting other sales categories.
Electronics and appliances are down -2.2% for April, sporting goods are down -1.9%, furniture is down -1.1%.
While this appears to be a slow down, there is a reason advanced retail sales are often reported three month tallies. Last month was revised dramatically to a blow out for retail sales. The three month tally, from February to April is up 8.1% in comparison to the same period a year ago.
So, while the press reacts to this month, simply because it doesn't match some monthly forecasts, one needs to look at the fact last month was revised from 0.4% to 0.9% and realize these months will average out.
Beyond getting gouged for gas and food, there is nothing in this report that is so negative or implies serious economic trouble ahead, but does imply a possible upward Q1 2011 GDP revision. Retail sales correlates to personal consumption, which is about 70% of GDP growth.
The below graph is retail sales minus autos & parts, which increased 0.6% this month.