By Amara Omeokwe


U.S. retail sales were flat in April as shoppers pulled back on goods purchases while boosting spending on services.

The moderation in spending came as the recovery continued to build strength, though with signs of unevenness. The slower pace of spending followed a burst from earlier in the spring when stimulus money arrived at most households.

Retail sales--a measure of purchases at stores, at restaurants and online--overall were unchanged last month from March, the Commerce Department reported Friday. That was short of economists' expectations for a 0.8% increase and well below the upwardly revised 10.7% advance in March.

Shoppers last month reined in spending across a wide range of retail categories, such as clothing and accessories, furniture, sporting goods and general merchandise stores.

Meanwhile, sales were up at restaurants and bars, by 3%, a positive sign for the hard-hit industry as the American economy more fully opens.

The surge in retail spending earlier in March came as the government distributed hundreds of billions in direct cash payments to households. That was similar to a large jump in retail sales during January, following a separate round of direct payments authorized by Congress at the end of 2020.


Write to Amara Omeokwe at


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

May 14, 2021 09:02 ET (13:02 GMT)

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