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The Line: Consumers Keep Consuming

Gregory Heym is Chief Economist at Brown Harris Stevens. His weekly series, The Line, covers new developments to the economy, including trends and forecasts. Read on for the latest report and subscribe here to receive The Line in your inbox.



Retail sales rose 0.9% in April—slightly below the 1% forecast—but still a strong number. March’s gain was revised up to 1.4%, which is also good news. To make it a trifecta of good news, it looks like some of the supply chain issues are improving, as auto sales rose 2.2% last month. This bodes well for second-quarter economic growth, after a very disappointing first quarter of 2022.


Keep in mind these figures are not adjusted for inflation, so while it’s true consumers are spending more, in most cases they are getting less for their money.


One number in the report that might surprise you was the 2.7% drop in sales at gasoline stations, due to a decline in energy prices last month. I know, it’s hard to remember gas prices falling with the gains we’ve seen the past few weeks.


Mortgage Rates Tick Lower



The average 30-year mortgage rate recently dipped to 5.25% from 5.30%. Rates are still over 2% higher than they were a year ago, so let’s hold off on any extravagant celebrations for now. That said, it does present a possible opportunity for buyers out there to lock in a slightly lower rate at a time when prices continue to rise. TheNational Association of Realtors recently reported that the median national listing price for a home reached a record high of $425,000 in April. This has led buyers toward adjustable-rate mortgages, which recently saw their highest demand in 14 years.


$27 is Too Much for a Beer, Even for Me



After receiving numerous complaints about the price of food and drinks at their airports, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is doing something about it. They have adopted a new policy which allows concession prices to be no more than 10% above the costs charged outside the airport. Vendors will also be required to offer lower-priced food and drink options. If only someone could get stadiums and arenas to do the same, my life would be so much better.


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