After faltering in March, retail sales rebounded somewhat in April.

National Retail Federation, NRF, Matthew Shay, Department of Commerce, Jack Kleinhenz, Rite Aid Corp., Walgreen Co., Express Scripts Inc., Costco Wholesale Corp., Fredís Inc.

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Retail sales take a turn for the better during April

May 27th, 2013

NEW YORK – After faltering in March, retail sales rebounded somewhat in April.

The National Retail Federation (NRF) said that April retail sales advanced a seasonally adjusted 0.6% from the month before, and increased 3.9% (unadjusted) over April of last year.

"In the face of higher taxes and sequester, consumers provided the economy a bit of a reprieve this month," NRF president and chief executive officer Matthew Shay said. "Despite colder spring weather and an early Easter, consumers shopped in April, demonstrating an inherent resiliency even as the economy faces serious headwinds, including stagnant job and wage growth."

The Department of Commerce released similar numbers that showed total retail and food services sales (which, unlike the NRF’s figures, include automobile dealers, gas stations and restaurants) increased 0.1% when seasonally adjusted month to month in April (compared to a 0.5% decline in March) and 3.7% adjusted year over year.

"Today’s retail sales data is encouraging news," NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz said. "However positive, retail sales and consumer spending in April may not necessarily translate into a stronger or healthier second quarter. NRF continues to forecast moderate sales growth for the year."

Health and personal care stores’ sales decreased 0.1% seasonally adjusted month to month and were flat unadjusted year over year, according to NRF.

Rite Aid Corp. reported that its same-store sales for the four weeks ended April 27 were down 4% compared to the prior-year period. Front-end same-store sales declined 3.5%, hurt by the earlier Easter this year. Pharmacy same-store sales decreased 4.2%, largely due to the impact of new generic drug introductions. Rite Aid’s total drug store sales for the four-week period decreased 4.6% to $1.9 billion.

Walgreen Co. reported April sales of $5.98 billion, up 3.8% from the prior-year period. Comparable-store sales were up 1.2%. Comparable-pharmacy sales increased 4.7%, and Walgreens officials said the percentage of Express Scripts Inc. customers returning to its pharmacies continued to increase in April.

Total front-end sales decreased 2.9% in April, while comparable-store front-end sales declined by 4.3%. Store traffic was down 4%.

Costco Wholesale Corp. reported a 4% increase in same-store sales for April. Analysts had expected a 4.5% gain, according to Thomson Reuters Data. Excluding the impact of lower fuel costs and a stronger dollar, same-store sales for April would have been up by 6%. Costco’s net sales for the four weeks ended May 5 rose 7% to $7.98 billion.

Fred’s Inc. reported a 3% increase in total sales, to $152.2 million, for the four weeks ended May 4. Same-store sales increased 1.2%, compared to a decline of 0.3% in the same period last year.