Consumers keep spending faster than inflation – and by a good amount. Retail sales in April rose 0.9% – 0.3% above inflation. So real (inflation-adjusted) retail sales rose 0.6%.
Why it matters: Many assume that consumers won’t be able to spend at rates eclipsing inflation. If spending drops below inflation, that could lead to a recession.
- But: Retail sales have outpaced inflation each month this year. In January, real retail sales grew 2.1%; in February 0.9%; and in March 0.2%.
Be smart: So far, it appears consumers have enough savings and will continue spending enough to ward off an inflation-induced recession.
Big picture: Retail sales do not account for spending on services (other than at restaurants and bars). Consumers will continue spending on services as they continue reopening.
- Sales were up at motor vehicles and parts dealers (2.2%), furniture stores (0.7%), electronics and appliance stores (1%), health and personal care stores (0.7%), clothing and accessory stores (0.8%), general merchandise stores (0.2%), miscellaneous stores (4%), non-store retailers (2.1%), and food and drinking places (2.0%).
- They were down at building material and garden supply stores (-0.1%), food and beverage stores (-0.2%), gas stations (-2.7%), and sporting goods and hobby stores (-0.5%).
—Curtis Dubay, Senior Economist, U.S. Chamber of Commerce