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April retail sales disappoint

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U.S. retail sales in April declined as consumer spending cooled down after surging in March. Emily McCormick breaks down the data.

Video Transcript

MYLES UDLAND: All right, welcome back to Yahoo Finance Live on this Friday morning. We had that rush of earnings, but we also had some key economic data out earlier today. Retail sales for the month of April crossing the tape. Yahoo Finance's Emily McCormick joins us now with the latest on those numbers. Emily.

EMILY MCCORMICK: Well, Myles, a disappointing print on retail sales for April, with that boost from stimulus checks in March quickly fading. We saw retail sales come in unchanged in April over March. And consensus economists had been looking for a 1% increase. Now not all bad news, though. The prior month's jump was upwardly revised to a 10.7% increase. That was up from the 9.8% rise that was previously reported. And that did mark the biggest gain we've seen since May 2020.

Now, excluding auto and gas sales, we saw retail sales actually fall by 0.8% in April over March. And we did see motor vehicle and parts dealer sales increase 2.9% in April. So stripping away those sales, as well as gas sales, did produce a decline.

Now, taking a look at some of the other big categories last month, some of the areas that saw the biggest gains in March did reverse course in April. Many of these were for big ticket items and discretionary purchases, which we know have been big beneficiaries of those stimulus checks spending. For example, we saw clothing and clothing accessories store sales drop by 5.1% in April. General merchandise store sales were down 4.9%. We also saw an almost 4% decline in sporting goods and hobby store sales.

I do want to highlight that food service and drinking places logged more increases in sales last month. We saw those rise by about 3%. And that brought this categories year over year increase to over 116%. But to put this all in perspective, retail sales last month were still up about 51.2% over the same month in 2020, which had, of course, been the height of stay-in-place orders here in the US.

So, overall, disappointing April print. Moderation had been expected for March. But many economists have been saying that likely things will start to pick up in the coming months, as we have more reopenings and the economic recovery continuing. Myles.

MYLES UDLAND: All right, Yahoo Finance's Emily McCormick with the latest on the April retail sales report. Always interesting to see how the Street decides that this retail sales report, which has weird year over year comps, that doesn't matter. The inflation data, though, that's the stuff we need to freak out about-- also dealing with the same distortions. We'll see how this goes through the summer months.