US retail sales in April rose at the fastest pace in a year, indicating that American consumers will step up spending in the second quarter after a slow start to the year, the Commerce Department reported Friday.
Retail sales surged 1.3 percent in April from the previous month to a seasonally adjusted 453.4 billion U.S. dollars, the Commerce Department said. It was the largest monthly gain since March 2015. Compared with a year earlier, total retail sales rose 3 percent.
Purchases of motor vehicle and parts advanced 3.2 percent in April, the largest increase since March 2015, while online retail sales climbed 2.1 percent, the biggest gain since June 2014. Excluding the volatile auto sales, total retail sales increased 0.8 percent last month.
April's improvement in overall retail spending boosts economists' confidence that the U.S. economy will bounce back in the second quarter after a disappointing start to the year, as consumer spending accounts for about two-thirds of economic output.
The U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of just 0.5 percent in the first quarter of this year, the weakest reading in two years and lower than the 1.4 percent increase in the previous quarter, the Commerce Department reported last month.
Personal consumption expenditures grew at a 1.9 percent annualized pace in the first three months of this year, following a 2.4-percent gain in the previous quarter, according to the Commerce Department.