Retail sales dropped in April

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Retail sales fell in April for the second month in a row, according to a report released today by the U.S. Department of Commerce.

U.S. retail and food service sales fell 0.4 percent from March to April, to $337.7 billion. Retail sales fell 11.4 percent from April 2008.

Last month's decline was worse than expected, according to a report in The New York Times. Economists predicted that sales would be flat, with declines halted by increases in consumer confidence and some signals that traffic in stores was improving.

"There's weakness across quite a large number of categories," Nigel Gault, chief United States economist at IHS Global Insight, told the Times. "We had huge declines during the fourth quarter, and then we had a couple of decent months of rebound. But now we've reversed most of that."

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