The U.S. Commerce Department announced that U.S. retail sales declined 0.4 percent in April, marking the second month in a row for declining sales. According to The Wall Street Journal, economists had expected an increase of 0.1 percent. Sales showed a slight uptick in January and February after sliding six straight months in 2008.
In April, housing-sector sales were mixed in April, with furniture retailers falling 0.5 percent and building material and garden supplies dealers rising 0.3 percent.
Excluding auto sales and gas station sales, all other retailers saw sales drop 0.3 percent in April with sales decreasing 0.5 percent at clothing stores; 2.8 percent at electronic stores; 0.1 percent at general merchandise stores; 0.1 percent at mail-order and Internet retailers; and 1.0 percent at food and beverage stores.
On a more positive note, sales at sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores increased 0.3 percent, 0.2 percent at eating and drinking places; and 0.4 percent at health and personal care stores.
Consumer spending, which makes up 70 percent of gross domestic product, dropped 6.1 percent in the first quarter of 2009.