US retail spending slows in April

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Washington (AFP)

Retail spending in the world's largest economy slowed sharply in April, retreating from March's booming pace, but still grew at a healthy rate, according to government data released Tuesday.

The solid result could contribute to a rebound in GDP growth in the second quarter of the year.

Retail spending rose 0.3 percent for the month, reaching $497.6 billion, matching economists' expectations but much slower than March's 0.8 percent jump, according to the Commerce Department.

Sales remain a healthy 4.7 percent stronger than the same month last year.

Retail sales at the start of the year were disappointing as replacement and reconstruction spending slowed from the last summer's back-to-back hurricanes.

But April's numbers pointed to a return to the pre-storm trend as American consumers plunked down more cash in April for clothing, furniture, building materials and groceries. This combined with a modest 0.1 percent gain in auto sales to drive the monthly increase.

Sales at gasoline station jumped 0.8 percent, the biggest increase since January.

Non-store retailers like Amazon saw a 0.6 percent increase, putting them a stunning 9.6 percent above April of last year.

But receipts fell at bars and restaurants, electronics retailers, sporting goods outlets and health and personal care stores.

Excluding the volatile auto sector, however, total sales rose just 0.3 percent, falling well short of analyst expectations.