Home   Logon   Mobile Site   Research and Commentary   About Us   Call 1.800.621.1675 or Email Us       Follow Us: 

Search by Ticker, Keyword or CUSIP       

Blog Home
   Brian Wesbury
Chief Economist
Click for Bio
Follow Brian on Twitter Follow Brian on LinkedIn View Videos on YouTube
   Bob Stein
Deputy Chief Economist
Click for Bio
Follow Bob on Twitter Follow Bob on LinkedIn View Videos on YouTube
  Retail Sales Were Unchanged in April
Posted Under: Data Watch • Government • Inflation • Retail Sales • Spending • COVID-19
Supporting Image for Blog Post

Implications: Retail sales took a breather in April after soaring 10.7% in March.  Sales soared in March because of a rebound from polar-vortex related problems in February plus the government sending out "stimulus" checks like they're going out of style.  So the lack of further growth in retail sales in April is understandable.  Eight of thirteen major categories declined in April, with general merchandise stores leading the way.  But gains in autos and restaurants and bars helped offset the decline.  Still, the level of sales remains extremely robust.  Sales are at an all-time record high, up 51.2% from a year ago, when a great deal of business activity was shut down due to COVID-related restrictions.  Another way to look at it is that sales are up 17.9% versus February 2020, which was pre-COVID.  That's the fastest growth rate for any 14-month period since 1979.  In other words, due to temporary government support, retail sales are running hotter than they would have been in the absence of COVID, even as the level of output (real GDP) is still running lower than it would have been in the absence of COVID.  It has not been an even recovery for all major categories, though.  For instance, sporting goods stores (+42.0%), non-store retailers (+33.7%), auto sales (+32.2%), and building materials (+31.3%) have all grown significantly faster than overall retail sales since February 2020.  Only at restaurants and bars (-2.0%) are sales still below where they were in February 2020.  "Core" sales, which exclude the most volatile categories of autos, building materials, and gas station sales, declined 0.8% in April, but are up 38.1% from a year ago.  In the months ahead, the path of retail sales will be a battle between getting back to normal due to vaccines as well as rising wages and jobs, while the temporary and artificial boost from "stimulus" checks wanes.  In inflation news today, import prices rose 0.7% in April.  Meanwhile, export prices increased 0.8%.  In the past year, import prices are up 10.6%, while export prices are up 14.4%.  Jumps like these show the rising inflation trend we are likely to witness in the year ahead.

Click here for a PDF version
Posted on Friday, May 14, 2021 @ 11:38 AM • Post Link Share: 
Print this post Printer Friendly

These posts were prepared by First Trust Advisors L.P., and reflect the current opinion of the authors. They are based upon sources and data believed to be accurate and reliable. Opinions and forward looking statements expressed are subject to change without notice. This information does not constitute a solicitation or an offer to buy or sell any security.
The information presented is not intended to constitute an investment recommendation for, or advice to, any specific person. By providing this information, First Trust is not undertaking to give advice in any fiduciary capacity within the meaning of ERISA, the Internal Revenue Code or any other regulatory framework. Financial professionals are responsible for evaluating investment risks independently and for exercising independent judgment in determining whether investments are appropriate for their clients.
First Trust Portfolios L.P.  Member SIPC and FINRA. (Form CRS)   •  First Trust Advisors L.P. (Form CRS)
Home |  Important Legal Information |  Privacy Policy |  California Privacy Policy |  Business Continuity Plan |  FINRA BrokerCheck
Copyright © 2023 All rights reserved.