The US-based National Retail Federation (NRF) has released data showing that retail sales in the country remained ‘virtually unchanged’ from March to April.

The figures, based on data from the US Census Bureau, showed that overall retail sales in April rose by 51.2% year-over-year (YoY).

The NRF said it expects sales to recover in the coming months amid record savings and a reopening economy.

During April, online and other ‘non-store’ sales fell by 0.6% month-over-month seasonally adjusted, but increased by 14.8% unadjusted YoY.

Grocery and beverage store sales increased by 0.4% month-over-month and 0.3% unadjusted year-over-year.

The data also shows that sporting goods store sales dropped by 3.6% month-over-month seasonally adjusted, but increased by 155% unadjusted YoY.

Electronics and appliance store sales rose by 1.2% month-over-month and 139.9% unadjusted YoY.

NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said: “In March, we saw a surge in spending as stimulus checks came in. That spending then declined slightly in April.

“Year-over-year growth of 28.8% demonstrates that household finances remain strong, and the economic recovery will likely continue to gain steam as we head into the summer months. Consumers are demonstrating that when they feel safe, they are both willing and able to spend and are driving the economy forward.

“The CDC’s updated guidance for fully vaccinated individuals will help further open the economy and get more people back to work. Retailers will continue to follow coronavirus-related laws and regulations governing store operations in each state.

“We urge lawmakers and government officials to prioritise policies that both encourage work and continued safety.”

NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz said: “Today’s year-over-year numbers are off the charts in some categories, reflecting the disparity between retailers that could remain open a year ago and those forced to shut down.

“Consumers may have tapped the brakes slightly in April compared with March, but it was like going from 100mph to 85mph compared with last year.

“The fuel from stimulus checks gave a strong boost to spending in March, and the fact that April numbers are very close shows spending is clearly going forward and still strong.”

In January, the NRF reported that US retail sales had increased ‘sharply’ that month despite the pandemic.

According to data from the US Census Bureau, overall retail sales in January increased by 5.3% seasonally adjusted from December. The figure was up by 7.4% year-over-year (YoY).