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Retail

April U.S. Retail Sales Grow 23.3% as Trends Point to a Recovering Economy

Retail sales continue to benefit from stimulus payments, coupled with warmer weather and broader reopening across the country, According to Mastercard SpendingPulse.

5/6/2021
graphic of retail spending by sector
The monthly retail sales report finds that despite the record shattering e-commerce growth in April 2020, online sales remained up year-over-year and department stores are seeing a surge too.
 
PURCHASE, N.Y. -- Total U.S. retail sales sprung into another month of double-digit growth in April, according to Mastercard SpendingPulse, which measures in-store and online retail sales across all forms of payment. U.S. retail sales excluding automotive and gasoline increased 23.3% year-over-year in April, and 10.8% compared to April 2019. Online sales in April grew 19.9% and 95.6%, respectively, compared to the same periods.

Retail sales continue to benefit from stimulus payments, coupled with warmer weather and broader reopening across the country. While the recovery has not been universal or consistent – due to geographical, economic, and household differences – there are a number of key overarching trends.

RESTAURANT RESURGENCE

April marks the second consecutive month of positive growth for the Restaurant category, underscoring that consumers have an appetite to eat out again. Spending at restaurants grew 118.8% vs. 2020, when widespread shut-downs crippled the industry, and were up 5.7% compared 2019.

Limited-service Restaurants, such as fast-food, were up 21.7% compared to 2019, outpacing their Full-service counterparts (-13.5% YO2Y).

ONLINE CONVENIENCE

Despite the record shattering e-commerce growth in April 2020, online sales remained up year-over-year. E-commerce share continues to make up a bigger portion of total retail spend overall (21.6%), as well as in categories such as Apparel (61.7%), Department Stores (21.0%) and Jewelry (15.7%).

DEPARTMENT STORES SEE A BOOST

Many of the depressed sectors in 2020, including Department Stores (+202.7%), Jewelry (+255%) and Lodging (+319.1%), are showing some of the largest year-over-year gains as retailers gear up for the return of gatherings and events. Department Stores grew 9.6% compared to 2019.

“April's retail sales growth reinforces that the American consumer is healthy and eager to spend, especially on categories such as restaurants, which have faced restrictions over the past year,” said Steve Sadove, Mastercard senior advisor and former CEO of Saks, Inc. “There are a lot of factors at play including stimulus funds, pent-up demand, and the desire to reconnect with friends and family. The fact is that people are excited to gather again and they're refreshing their look for the occasion.”

About Mastercard SpendingPulse

Mastercard SpendingPulse reports on national retail sales across all payment types in select markets around the world. The findings are based on aggregate sales activity in the Mastercard payments network, coupled with survey-based estimates for certain other payment forms, such as cash and check. As such, SpendingPulse insights do not in any way contain, reflect or relate to actual Mastercard operational or financial performance, or specific payment-card-issuer data.
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