Retail sales flat as stimulus boost cools

Economists were anticipating a 1% month-over-month increase

Consumer spending was flat last month as the recent boost from stimulus checks tapered off and shoppers grappled with inflation worries. 

Retail sales, a measure of spending at restaurants, stores and online, totaled $619.9 billion, according to the Commerce Department, up fractionally from last month's reading of $619.8 billion. Wall Street analysts surveyed by Refinitiv were expecting an increase of 1%. 

The flat reading follows an upwardly revised 10.7% increase for March, which was bolstered by President Biden sending $1,400 checks to most Americans. It also comes as consumers grappled with higher prices for items such as food and used cars as consumer prices posted their fastest annual increase in nearly 13 years.

Still, sales rose 51.2% from a year ago, as the economy continued to gather strength with more states reopening from their COVID-19 lockdowns. Clothing and clothing accessories stores reported a 727% year over year increase, while food services and drinking places sales were up 117%.


Excluding autos, retail sales declined 0.8%, missing the 0.7% increase that was anticipated.