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So much for the spring upswing analysts had been expecting: Retail sales were essentially stagnant in April, despite the anticipated boost from warmer weather and a later Easter holiday.

A gauge from the Commerce Department inched up 0.1% last month from the month before. When the more volatile measure of motor vehicle and parts receipts was stripped out of the equation, the retail sales tally was flat.

Analysts had expected a 0.4% increase.

“After two months of back-to-back strength, the consumer appears to have lost momentum as we head into the second quarter,” said Lindsey Piegza, chief economist at Sterne Agee, in a note to clients.

It's almost as if all those excuses about the bad weather were just excuses. And if I'm reading the data correctly from further down in the report, retail sales would have actually fallen slightly had it not been for higher gas prices. In other words, we're spending less on the things we want and more on the things we can't do without.

Recovery summer, anyone?