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Retail sales jump in April
Increase 1.4 percent, trumping Wall Street's estimates; automobile and clothing sales strong.
May 12, 2005: 9:13 AM EDT

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Retail sales, pumped up by purchases of new cars and clothing, rebounded strongly in April, a government report showed Thursday.

The Department of Commerce report said overall sales rose 1.4 percent last month, compared to a revised 0.4 percent increase in the prior month. Retail sales were initially reported to have risen 0.3 percent last month.

It was the strongest showing for overall monthly retail sales growth since last September when retail sales rose 1.8 percent.

Economists surveyed by had forecast retail sales to increase 0.7 percent.

Excluding auto sales, retail sales rose 1.1 percent. Economists, on average, had expected an increase of 0.5 percent. Ex-auto sales were up 0.1 percent the previous month.

"This number together with the strong April employment performance assuages the fear that the economy was starting to decline," said Michael Niemira, chief economist and director of research with the International Council of Shopping Centers.

"The retail sales number was certainly stronger than everyone expected and the underlying message is that consumer spending remains solid and steady despite the distraction of fluctuating gas prices," he added.

Among last month's strongest performing categories were auto sales, which rose 2.5 percent and clothing purchases which rose 2.8 percent.

Department store sales rose 1.3 percent, rebounding nicely from a 2 percent decline in the previous month. General merchandise sales rose 1.5 percent while building material sales rose 1.2 percent. Sales at gas stations increased 1.9 percent after a 2.0 percent gain in the prior month.

However, sales of electronics slipped 0. 1 percent and. Sporting goods sales fell 0.3 percent last month.  Top of page


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