US Retail Sales Rebound after Sluggish Winter

US Retail Sales Rebound after Sluggish Winter

Sales at furniture and home furnishings stores totaled an estimated $9.46 billion in April, up from a revised $9.12 billion in April 2016, the U.S. Department of Commerce reported. Overall retail sales were up 0.4% from March. Excluding foodservice, automotive, and gasoline, core retail sales rose 3% year over year, which GlobalData Retail Managing Director Neil Saunders called "a respectable uplift... only slightly below the average rate of growth over the past year".

Yet a category that includes online retailers reported sales growth of 1.4 percent, the strongest of any group.

The sales gains were widespread, as Americans spent more at electronics and appliance stores, health care retailers, and sporting goods outlets.

J.C. Penney Co Inc on Friday joined other department store chains in reporting a steeper-than-expected drop in same-store sales for the first quarter, sending the company's shares tumbling premarket to near record low levels.

Core retail sales - excluding automobiles and parts grew 0.3%.

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The U.S. Census Bureau's advance monthly report released earlier today indicates that total retail sales reached nearly $475 billion last month, a 4.5% increase over April 2016's $454.7 billion, but virtually flat compared to last month.

Sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores had the next largest percentage decrease, down 2.4% from April previous year, while general merchandise stores - the sector under which department stores fall - saw a 0.7% decrease.

While retail is in a state of flux, the source of those difficulties is not mainly due to a major slowdown in consumer spending, Saunders said.

In a report emailed to Retail Dive earlier this week, Retail Metrics analyst Ken Perkins compares retailers' situation to the troubles retailers faced coming out of the Great Recession eight years ago.

Still, retail chains have announced thousands of store closures so far this year, and some have filed for bankruptcy protection, as US shoppers increasingly shift their spending to online platforms from physical storefronts and malls. Retailers slashed jobs at the sharpest pace in seven years this spring. Over the past year, nonstore sales rose 11.9% and department-store sales fell 3.7%. And retailers collectively could report the biggest drop in first-quarter profits since 2009. Sales at department stores rose 0.2 percent, rather than falling 0.2 percent.

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