By opening up their wallets enough to support year-over-year growth in retail spending for the month of April, American consumers continued to provide fuel for optimism on economic activity going forward.
An Associated Press report on Commerce Department figures said that April marked the seventh consecutive month of retail spending growth, and the gain, a modest 0.4% over April 2009, was still better than the 0.2% gain that was the consensus prediction for the month.
It was also a marked drop from the 2.1% increase retailers enjoyed in March, but that was credited to the ever-shifting Easter holiday, which fueled increase spending in the earlier month.
Hardware stores were the key beneficiaries of the uptick, gaining 6.9% over the previous year.
According to AP, economists continue to fret that a difficult employment environment is still capable of stalling the recovery, but note the positive growth in jobs during the month as a plus if it can be sustained. An increase in the unemployment rate, an indication of the employment-hopeless resuming the search for a job, can also be viewed as a positive, a sign that the economy is finally seen as improving.