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2.7%  Q1 GDP    4.57%  avg. 30-year mortgage     9.5%  Unemployment

April retail sales beat expectations

PASADENA, CA - OCTOBER 15:  Mannequins stand b...

Image by Getty Images via Daylife

April retail sales rose 0.4 percent, the government said moments ago, a figure that was twice what forecasters were expecting, a sign that consumers are opening their wallets and spending.

Removing auto sales from April retail sales did nothing to impact the number, indicating that new car sales rose at the same pace as other consumer goods. Same thing if you remove the volatile fuel and food costs.

March retail sales were revised upward and grew at a rate of 1.2 percent.

Consumer spending accounts for about 70 percent of U.S. GDP, so a rebound in spending is necessary for for continued recovery.

The question will be: Are consumers buying things with cash they have saved during the recession or are they putting the new goods on their credit cards? If the answer is the latter, that's troubling, because that's part of reason we got in the mess we did.

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By Frank Ahrens  |  May 14, 2010; 8:56 AM ET
Categories:  Data , The Ticker  | Tags: Business, Final goods, Retail, Retail Trade, april retail sales, consumer spending  
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