PLANO, Texas — Retails sales were up in April, surprisinganalysts and economy watchers, posting a bump of 0.5% for themonth. But that figure didn't include the sales of automobiles,which fell 0.2%, offsetting the 0.2% increase from March.

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Brian Turner, director of advisory services for SouthwestCorporate Advisory Services, noted that the “centerpiece of theFederal Open Market Committee's recovery plan, consumer spending,is not forecast to grow at an annual rate of 0.7% for this quarter,down from a 1.0% pace in the first quarter of 2008 and the smallestgain in almost 17 years.”

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It is hoped, however, that many consumers will succumb to thetemptation of spending those government rebate stimulus checks thatare now being received, rather than use the money to pay debt orput it in savings. Spending is forecast then to rebound a bit,growing to 2.5% in the third quarter.

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NAFCU Economist Katrin O'Connor noted that sales at buildingsupply and electronics stores posted strong, unexpected gains inApril. “This strength, however, is not expected to last, withhousing continuing to put a significant drag on economic growth.”Consumers seemed to be going for bargains at the big retailers tostretch their paychecks.

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O'Connor was mindful of the anticipated rebate check bounce, butsaid any uptick would be impacted by how much will go to paying thehigher cost of gas and food.

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