In recent months, consumer spending has been down and investors have been frightened by the news. Unfortunately, this can create volatility in the market and cause prices to fluctuate substantially. However, April brings some good news for investors and business owners. Within the United States, April's retail sales increased substantially. In fact, the increase is the biggest of the year and has led many analysts to suggest that the economy could very well be gaining momentum.
Previously, Macy's and Nordstrom reported massively decreased sales for the first quarter of the year. They're not the only companies, which have been hit by hard times. Apple was also forced to report decreased sales of their smartphones and the company's stock has yet to recover. The good news is that these companies may be able to benefit from the return of the consumer. In April, retail sales increased by 1.3%. The market hasn't seen such a massive increase since March of 2015. This will prove to be good news for the Federal Reserve and will strengthen their determination to increase the country's interest rates next month.
Europe has proven to be an excellent market for automobile markets, especially Fiat Chrysler. According to the company's recent press release, their European sales increased by a total of 13.6% over the previous year. The company experienced increased sales across the board for each of their brands, including Jeep, Fiat and Lancia. Within the European market, it was the Fiat Panda and the Fiat 500 that turned out to be the best sellers. The 500L also proved to be a hit with the Europeans. The Fiat brand alone sold over 68,000 vehicles for the month, which equates to a 14% increase over the previous year.
According to the Washington Post, Americans are not spending, even though the fuel prices are at an all-time low and employment is down. Of course, Secretary of the Treasury, Jack Lew was quick to deny these allegations. In fact, he consistently insists that the economy is showing signs of improvement and only that shopping giants had set their expectations too high. Washington Post also mentioned the fact that retail sales reports are not on the positive side, but again Lew continued to deny this description of the 2016 economy and description of American consumers.
Macy's, Kohl's, and Gap reported low sales last week, confirming truth in Washington Post's Sarah Halzack's most recent published article. He dismisses these retail giants' sales reports and instead focuses on a positive trend in the retail market. Under the circumstances, it appears that the U.S. consumer is weak, but Lew states that we need to focus on a firm-by-firm experience.
With more than 94 million unemployed Americans, with 26 million foreign workers making up the workforce, many feel that the economy has flat lined. Walmart, one of the largest retail giants has also posted negative sales. This is a sure sign that Mr. Lew is wrong on his description of the American consumer and economy.
Although it is unknown how the future will play out, there is one that is certain. Consumers have proven that the 7 passenger SUV can be a hit at home and abroad. With automobile sales up, it is almost certain that the demand for crude oil will also increase. This could result in the price of gasoline increasing to its old highs once again, before the year comes to an end.