U.S. retail sales unexpectedly stall

American consumers spent less at stores last month. U.S. retail sales unexpectedly stalled in April as the boost from stimulus checks faded.

The Commerce Department said Friday sales were flat following a nearly 11% surge in March. Economists had expected sales would increase modestly.

Once you strip out the impact of volatile items like food, gas and autos, the so-called core retail sales dropped 1.5% from a rise of over 7% in March.

The weak sales data could raise anxiety about the economic recovery. Consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of economic activity. Fears about the virus linger, keeping many workers at home. And hiring slowed in April amid a shortage of workers.

But retail sales are likely to pick up in the coming months amid record savings and a reopening economy. Households have accumulated at least $2.3 trillion in excess savings during the health crisis, and that should underpin spending this year.

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