Retail gross sales rise for the fourth straight month as costs preserve climbing.


Retail sales rose 0.9 percent in April, rising for the fourth straight month as consumer prices continue to escalate at the fastest pace in four decades.

The rise in spending in the United States last month follows a 0.5 percent rise in March, when gas prices soared amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Gas prices cooled slightly in April but still hovered at elevated levels, while oil prices remain volatile.

Consumers pulled back spending at gas stations, where sales fell 2.7 percent in April, the Commerce Department reported on Tuesday, and the report showed shopping at grocery and home improvement stores had declined over the past month.

Sales at restaurants and bars rose 2 percent in April, while department store spending rose 0.2 percent. Spending at auto dealers, hampered by supply chain disruptions and a global shortage of computer chips, rose 2.2 percent last month.

Economists focus on upcoming spending reports because they serve as indicators of how consumers are struggling with inflation and higher interest rates.

“Despite price increases weighing on their purchasing power, the US consumer now appears to be single-handedly keeping the global economy afloat,” wrote Paul Ashworth, economist at Capital Economics, in a note.

The new data from the Department of Commerce, which is not adjusted for inflation, tracked spending in a month when prices rose 8.3 percent from a year earlier. The fast pace of inflation has prompted companies to raise the prices of their goods to cover the higher cost of goods, labor and transportation. Companies like PepsiCo and Coca-Cola have introduced higher prices for their products, and airfares are also increasing.

To combat inflation, the US Federal Reserve began raising interest rates from near zero in March. Economists fear that raising rates too quickly could push the economy into recession as consumer demand is curbed too much.

“To the extent markets are concerned about a slowdown in growth, this is good news,” Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer of the Independent Advisor Alliance, wrote in a statement referring to Tuesday’s report. “But it’s also another catalyst for the Fed to hike rates even more to get inflation under control.”