Retail Sales Gain 0.4%; U.S. Factories Continue Powering Economy

Retail Sales Gain 0.4%; U.S. Factories Continue Powering Economy

May 14, 2010 - For the seventh straight month, April's U.S. retail sales rose 0.4% to a seasonally adjusted $366.4 billion. Sales in building materials and gardening equipment had the strongest gains of any category, posting a 6.9% increase from the month of March.

Despite weak financial conditions, consumer spending and retail sales continue to be strong. Sales in March were revised upward, amounting to 2.1 percent for the month; it was the fastest increase seen thus far this year. March's surprisingly strong gain is suspected to have produced April's slightly weaker numbers.

However, in comparison to April 2009, sales were up 8.8%. Purchases were mixed across the different retail sectors, with a small slide in clothing stores, department stores and sporting goods.

Following Friday's retail sales report, the Federal Reserve released April's Industrial Production (IP) numbers. Last month, output at factories, mines and utilities increased 0.8 percent, while production at manufacturers rose 1 percent.

The combination of manufacturing growth and the sustainability of consumer spending have helped to sustain the country's economic expansion. April's increase was the largest seen since a 1.2 percent increase in January.

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