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NRF: Retail sales inched up in April; home stores' sales flat

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Improved employment data, better housing prices, and a record-breaking stock market served as catalysts for an April retail sales increase of 0.6%, seasonally adjusted from last month, excluding automobiles, gas stations and restaurants, and up 3.9% unadjusted year-over-year.

As it relates to furniture and home furnishing stores, sales were flat seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and increased 6.4% unadjusted year-over-year.

"In the face of higher taxes and sequester, consumers provided the economy a bit of a reprieve this month," said Matthew Shay, NRF president and CEO. "Despite colder spring weather and an early Easter, consumers shopped in April, demonstrating an inherent resiliency even as the economy faces serious headwinds, including stagnant job and wage growth."

April retail sales, released by the U.S. Department of Commerce, showed total retail and food services sales, which include non-general merchandise categories such as automobiles, gasoline stations and restaurants, increased 0.1% seasonally adjusted month-to-month and increased 3.7% adjusted year-over-year.

"Today's retail sales data is encouraging news," said Jack Kleinhenz, NRF chief economist. "However positive, retail sales and consumer spending in April may not necessarily translate into a stronger or healthier second quarter. NRF continues to forecast moderate sales growth for the year."

Other findings from the April retail sales report include:

• Building material & garden equipment and supplies dealers stores' sales increased 1.5% seasonally-adjusted and increased 7.7% unadjusted year-over-year.

• Clothing and clothing accessories stores' sales increased 1.2% seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and increased 3.5% unadjusted year-over-year.

• Electronics and appliance stores' sales increased 0.8% seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and increased 1.2% unadjusted year-over-year.

• General merchandise stores' sales increased 1.0% seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and decreased 2.7% unadjusted year-over-year.

• Health and personal care stores' sales were decreased 0.1% seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and flat unadjusted year-over-year.

• Non-store retailers' sales increased 1.4% seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and increased 19.0% unadjusted year-over-year.

• Sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores' sales increased 0.5% seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and increased 4.5% unadjusted year-over-year.

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