It seems that analysts have been unable to predict Commerce Department figures accurately recently. In April, sales dropped. Analysts had expected a gain. March figures were also revised downwards. Calculated Risk has a good summary and produced the I've copied below.
(Click for larger version.)
The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that advance estimates of U.S.and food services sales for April, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $337.7 billion, a decrease of 0.4 percent (±0.5%)* from the previous month and 10.1 percent (±0.7%) below April 2008. Total sales for the February through April 2009 period were down 9.2 percent (±0.5%) from the same period a year ago. The February to March 2009 percent change was revised from -1.2 percent (±0.5%) to -1.3 percent (±0.3%).
Retail trade sales were down 0.4 percent (±0.7%)* from March 2009 and 11.4 percent (±0.7%) below last year. Gasoline stations sales were down 36.4 percent (±1.5%) from April 2008 and motor vehicle and parts dealers sales were down 20.7 percent (±2.3%) from last year.