Retail Sales: This Expense is Finally Hitting Consumers

The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for April, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $389.4 billion, an increase of 0.5 percent from the previous month, and 7.6 percent above April 2010. Total sales for the February through April 2011 period were up 8.1 percent from the same period a year ago.  The February to March 2011 percent change was revised from +0.4 percent to +0.9 percent.

Retail trade sales were up 0.6 percent from March 2011, and 7.9 percent above last year.  Gasoline stations sales were up 21.8 percent from April 2010 and nonstore retailers sales were up 15.5 percent from last year.

Obviously, inflating Oil (NYSE:USO) prices are adding to mind-boggling gross revenues for gasoline sales. So, although retail sales are up for the tenth straight month, drilling down to the details shows a weakening trend. If we strip out autos, gasoline, and building materials, “core” retail sales were up a very small 0.2%.

Motor vehicle sales rose 0.2% in April, a rebound from a 0.7% in March. Toyota Motor Corporation (NYSE:TM), Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F), and Honda Motor Company (NYSE:HMC) are up on the news.