US retail sales rose a solid 0.3 per cent in April

WASHINGTON — U.S. retail sales rose at a solid pace last month, a sign that consumers may be rebounding from weak spending in the first three months of the year and driving better economic growth.

Retail sales increased 0.3 per cent in April, the Commerce Department said Tuesday, down from a 0.8 per cent gain in March, which was revised higher. The spending gains were spread across most retail categories, with big gains at furniture and clothing stores.

Consumer spending has rebounded in the past two months after a weak start to the year, a trend that should lift growth in the April-June quarter.

“Consumption growth is on track for a big rebound in the second quarter, which should push overall GDP growth up to more than 3 per cent,” Michael Pearce, senior U.S. economist at Capital Economics, said.

Spending is likely to remain healthy in the months ahead, buoyed by a strong job market that is showing early signs of lifting Americans’ incomes. The unemployment rate has fallen to a 17-year low of 3.9 per cent. And measures of consumer confidence remain healthy, despite rising gas prices and a rocky stock market.

Clothing-store sales, fueled by price cuts, jumped 1.4 per cent, while sales at home and garden stores rose 0.4 per cent. A category that includes online and catalogue sales rose 0.6 per cent.

Consumer spending climbed 4 per cent in the final three months of last year, the strongest increase in three years. Americans then cut back in January and February, but then spending rebounded in March.

Gas station sales rose 0.8 per cent in April, less than some analysts forecast, largely reflecting price increases. Prices at the pump have risen steadily in the past year, driven higher mostly by oil price gains. Tuesday’s figures suggest that the price increases haven’t yet dragged down other spending, but that could change. Analysts expect gas prices to keep rising as the summer driving season gets underway.

The average price for a gallon of gas nationwide reached $2.88 Tuesday, up 17 cents from a month earlier and 54 cents from a year ago.

Retail sales are closely watched by economists because they provide an early read on consumer spending, the principal driver of the U.S. economy. Store purchases account for about one-third of U.S. consumer spending, while spending on services such as haircuts and mobile phones plans makes up the other two-thirds.

Christopher Rugaber, The Associated Press

Just Posted

Sunshine means open umbrellas at Ross Street Patio

Red Deer’s downtown public patio is open for the season

Five people charged in drug investigation

Red Deer RCMP seize drugs and guns

READER PHOTO: Heavy police presence in Morrisroe

Some Morrisroe residents were alarmed to see police officers with heavy rifles… Continue reading

Notley to skip premiers conference so she can focus on pipeline deal

EDMONTON — There won’t be any fireworks between the premiers of Alberta… Continue reading

WATCH: Ellis Bird Farm open for summer

There is something magical about the Ellis Bird Farm located outside of… Continue reading

Black bear kills dog that jumped out car window in Jasper National Park

JASPER, Alta. — A black bear is being watched in Jasper National… Continue reading

Watch: Videos of two shrieking lynx posted by Ontario couple go viral

An Ontario man who shot a viral video of two lynx shrieking… Continue reading

Royal wedding sermon on ‘love’ was about more than the marriage of Harry and Meghan

The sermon delivered at Saturday’s royal wedding was about the love shared… Continue reading

That ‘American Idol’ season finale twist was a stroke of evil genius

So now that “American Idol” airs on a Disney property … was… Continue reading

Rare tiger cub dies at N.B. zoo after being born with health issues

MONCTON, N.B. — Staff at a New Brunswick zoo are mourning the… Continue reading

Toronto Maple Leafs lose Lamoriello, Hunter as executives leave roles

TORONTO — The fallout from the Toronto Maple Leafs’ front office reshuffle… Continue reading

The ‘King of the Commode’ seeks an heir to his thrones

ALAMO HEIGHTS, Texas — FOR SALE: One tiny kingdom, with many thrones.… Continue reading

School victims honoured at Billboard Awards; Janet, BTS shine

The 2018 Billboard Music Awards paid tribute to the students and teachers… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month