Washington, D.C. — U.S. retail sales overall remained static in April, following a 10.7 percent increase in March, according to the Department of Commerce. The monthly data fell below expectations, as economists polled by Reuters had projected a 1 percent increase in retail sales.
Some sectors of the economy did experience a substantial increase in spending, however. The Wall Street Journal reported that a tracker of credit- and debit-card spending from Bank of America revealed that outlays on airlines rose 23 percent, and that spending at restaurants and lodging also increased. Conversely, spending at department stores fell a seasonally adjusted 28 percent from March to April, while outlays on clothing and furniture also fell.
Economists expect that pent-up consumer demand coupled with a buildup in personal savings will lead to more spending during the next couple of months, especially as states across the country are lifting pandemic restrictions on businesses.
Many economists are hoping that consumers will feel more at ease as the COVID-19 vaccines roll out and millions of Americans become fully vaccinated. On Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a statement stating that there’s no longer a need for people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to wear a mask, even inside public places.
The Department of Commerce also noted that the 10.7 percent gain in March retail sales is an upward revision to the previously reported 9.7 percent increase.