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What The U.S. Commerce Department Is Saying

WASHINGTON – Sell-through at CE and appliance stores fell 3.5 percent year over year to an estimated $8.5 billion in April, the U.S. Commerce Department reported.

Sales for the channel were essentially flat from March, edging down 0.4 percent. By comparison, April sales at furniture stores were up 1.5 percent; sales for e-tailers and other direct sellers rose 6.3 percent; and total retail sales, excluding food service and automotive, were down 0.1 percent for the month.

“Retail sales disappointed in April,” acknowledged Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist of the National Retail Federation (NRF), an industry trade group. He described consumer spending as “anemic.”

Kleinhenz said employment gains, wage and salary increases, low gas prices, and greater savings should theoretically drive greater spending during the back half of the year. However, “the jury is still out,” he said.