U.S. retail sales in April recorded their biggest increase in a year as Americans stepped up purchases of automobiles and a range of other goods, suggesting the economy was regaining momentum after growth almost stalled in the first quarter.
The jump in sales reported by the Commerce Department on Friday is a boost for the sector that has been hit by sluggish demand. It comes days after major retailers, including Macy’s and Nordstrom, reported sales tumbled in the first quarter and lowered their full-year profit forecasts.
“The retail sales report shows that recent claims of the demise of the U.S. consumer have been greatly exaggerated,” said Steve Murphy, a U.S. economist at Capital Economics in Toronto.
Retail sales surged 1.3 percent last month, the largest gain since March 2015. March’s retail sales were revised up to show a 0.3 percent decline instead of the previously reported 0.4 percent drop.
Excluding automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services, retail sales shot up 0.9 percent last month after an upwardly revised 0.2 percent gain in March. Read more