WASHINGTON?Higher gasoline and food prices took a greater chunk from Americans' pocketbooks in April as the growth of overall US consumer spending slowed in the month, data showed Thursday.
Retail and food service sales rose 0.5 percent in April from March, and were up 7.6 percent from a year earlier, according to figures released by the Census Department.
It was the weakest rate of growth since December, underscoring the sluggishness of the overall economy in the first four months of the year and the impact of higher fuel and food prices.
Spending on gasoline rose 2.7 percent in April, and on groceries, 1.5 percent.
Meanwhile, Americans cut back shopping for electronics, sporting and hobby goods, and home furnishings.
The impact of higher gasoline prices was even clearer in the data measuring the February-April period.
Consumers spent 8.9 percent more on fuel for their cars and trucks over the previous quarter, and 18.3 percent more than the year-earlier quarter.
Overall spending growth for the same periods was up 2.7 percent and 8.1 percent, respectively.
Economist Inna Mufteeva of Natixis called it a "disappointing report as the 'core' sales showed a significant slowdown compared to the previous month's figures."
However, Mufteeva added, "We do not anticipate the depressing 'oil price effect' to keep weighing on consumer confidence on a permanent basis as commodity price pressures have recently eased."