USA clothing retail sales slip in April

Pickup in US retail sales adds to steady consumer spending

Figures from the Commerce Department showed U.S. retail sales rose by 0.4% last month, although economists had been looking for a rise of 0.6%. In the first three months of the year, the retailer's net sales dropped 3.7% to $2.71bn - the third quarter in a row they have fallen.

Americans stepped up their spending at auto dealers, hardware stores and e-commerce outlets as retail sales rebounded from two sluggish months.

Retail sales growth slowed again in April compared to recent months, dragged down by a drop in department and apparel specialty store performance. Retailers like electronic stores and building material suppliers had a good month, and even department stores eked out a small gain.

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However, the upside was limited by decreases in sales by clothing and accessories stores, furniture and home furnishings stores, and general merchandise stores.

Total U.S. retail and food services sales increased 4.5% from April a year ago to $474.9 billion and were up 0.4%, from a preliminary March sales estimate.

This data follows recently announced 2017 retail sales projections from the NRF, calling for an annual gain in the 3.7-to-4.2 percent range, with online and other non-store/online sales (which NRF includes in its over all number) to head up between 8 and 12 percent.

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"While the interplay between consumer confidence and spending is hard to gauge, retail sales trends and recent consumer sentiment readings are consistent with a pickup in the pace of the economy in the coming months", NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said in a blog posting.

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.

The costs related to the store closures and severance packages was partly responsible for Penney's net loss more than doubling to $180 million, or 58 cents per share, in the quarter ended April 29.

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All other sectors saw increases over April a year ago. Sales at department stores rose 0.2 percent, rather than falling 0.2 percent.

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