Retail Sales Continued to Rise in April

More

The U.S. consumer must believe the recession is over. Retail sales increased again in April for the 7th month straight. Americans bought $366.4 billion of retail products and food last month, an increase of 0.4% compared to March, according to the Commerce Department (.pdf). That might not seem like a huge increase, but it's a lot better than the 0.3% decline economists predicted. It's also an 8.8% rise compared to a year earlier. Today's report reinforces the assertion that consumers are feeling more and more comfortable spending.

Revisions were also good news. March's retail sales growth over February was revised up from 1.9% to 2.1%. Given that huge rise in March, it's not surprising that April's comparably modest increase didn't result from across-the-board increases in the sales of all retail products. But year-over-year sales are up broadly in all categories. Here's a chart showing how some of the major components changed:

retail sales categories 2010-04.PNG

So how close are sales to their pre-recession highs? Very close. Here's a chart showing the history:

retail sales historical 2010-04.PNG

April's $366.4 billion is just 3.6% lower than the November 2007 high of $380.0 billion. April's retail sales exceeded those in February 2007. Considering the fact that unemployment is still close to 10%, with underemployment in the high-teens, that's pretty incredible. Consumers must be quite confident that the recovery has taken hold.

Note: All figures above are seasonally adjusted.

(Nav Image Credit: nateOne/flickr)

Jump to comments
Presented by

Daniel Indiviglio was an associate editor at The Atlantic from 2009 through 2011. He is now the Washington, D.C.-based columnist for Reuters Breakingviews. He is also a 2011 Robert Novak Journalism Fellow through the Phillips Foundation. More

Indiviglio has also written for Forbes. Prior to becoming a journalist, he spent several years working as an investment banker and a consultant.
Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

The Death of Film: After Hollywood Goes Digital, What Happens to Movies?

You'll never hear the whirring sound of a projector again.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

The Death of Film

You'll never hear the whirring sound of a projector again.

Video

How to Hunt With Poison Darts

A Borneo hunter explains one of his tribe's oldest customs: the art of the blowpipe

Video

A Delightful, Pixar-Inspired Cartoon

An action figure and his reluctant sidekick trek across a kitchen in search of treasure.

Video

I Am an Undocumented Immigrant

"I look like a typical young American."

Video

Why Did I Study Physics?

Using hand-drawn cartoons to explain an academic passion

Writers

Up
Down

More in Business

Just In