Retail sales stagger in April

WASHINGTON — A Tuesday report by the Commerce Department showed that U.S. retail sales during the month of April edged up 0.1%, following a 0.7% gain in March and marking the smallest rise of the year so far. The gain was in line with projections.

Excluding auto sales, retail sales climbed 0.1% in April.

An early Easter and unusually mild temperatures may have impacted the results by pulling consumers into the stores in March, industry experts said. The average temperature in March was the warmest ever recorded in the United States, and Easter fell on April 8, compared with April 24 the year before.

Sales at specialty apparel and department stores sagged in April – down 0.7% and 0.1% respectively. Still, nine of 13 major categories showed gains last month, led by auto dealers, furniture stores and non-store retailers that included online merchants.