Retail sales were stronger than expected in April 2013, bumping up 0.1 percent, according to figures released by the Commerce Department. Economists had widely predicted a 0.3 percent decline, reports to Reuters.
"The increase certainly isn't anything to shout about, but it was better than the consensus forecast of a decline," said Capital Economics economist Paul Dales. "Overall, it doesn't look as though January's payroll tax hike put much of a dent in consumption in either the first or second quarters."
A one percent increase in car sales drove most of the increase, as sales figure minus the auto numbers demonstrate a month-to-month decline in retail transactions of 0.1 percent.
Building material and garden supply sales were up 4.7 percent, likely driven by strength in the real estate market. Department stores sales saw a very slight increase of 0.3 percent
Home goods and furnishing sales were essentially flat while grocery store sales fell 1.2 percent, which indicates lower food prices. A drop in price was also reflected in gasoline sales, which were down 4.7 percent during April 2013.
Retail sales are closely watched by economists as they represent 30 percent of consumer spending.