Consumers in April shrugged off economists’ concerns about inflation and stock market volatility, continuing to shop as retail sales overcame higher prices to show both monthly and year-over-year increases, the National Retail Federation (NRF) said today.
“April’s retail sales data is encouraging because it shows consumers are taking higher prices in stride and remain resilient,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said in a release. “Sales benefited from Easter/Passover spending and also from tax refunds, which have been delayed by pandemic-related issues at the IRS but are also larger than usual. High gasoline prices, rising interest rates, and price pressures across the board continue to be headwinds to spending, but wage and job gains are offsetting that with a tailwind that should bode well for moderate-but-steady spending growth going forward.”
The U.S. Census Bureau reported that overall retail sales in April were up 0.9% seasonally adjusted from March and up 8.2% year over year. That compared with increases of 1.4% month over month and 7.3% year over year in March.
Those figures were similar to NRF’s calculation of retail sales, which excludes automobile dealers, gasoline stations, and restaurants to focus on core retail. That measure showed April was up 0.9% seasonally adjusted from March and up 6.4% unadjusted year over year. In March, sales were up 1% month over month and up 3.9% year over year.
“April retail sales demonstrate consumer strength and willingness to spend despite persistent inflation, supply chain constraints, market volatility, and global unrest,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a release. “Retail businesses are also facing increased costs like higher energy bills and rents as well as the cost for goods, transportation, and wages. Despite already tight margins, retailers remain committed to their customers and are doing everything they can to absorb these costs to keep products affordable.”
Looking at the impact of government policies on the economy following the Federal Reserve’s move to raise interest rates, Shay called on the Biden administration and Congress to lift the China tariffs, pass legislation to fix the supply chain, and address immigration reform to ease the tight labor market.
Consumers accustomed to #inflation continued to spend in April as retail sales overcame higher prices to show both monthly and year-over-year increases. https://t.co/v5cQCnuetx #TameInflationNow pic.twitter.com/yzoCsxSQrO— National Retail Federation (@NRFnews) May 17, 2022