Retail sales rose 1.1% in April, but some ASX retail shares are selling off in May

Some ASX retailers are giving back share price gains seen last month…and some aren’t.

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Australian retail turnover increased 1.1% from March 2021 to April 2021, seasonally adjusted, according to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Retail Trade figures. April retail sales increased 25.1% when compared to a year ago, reflecting the impact of COVID-19 restrictions in April 2020.

The rise was led by New South Wales and Victoria, which each saw rises of 2%. Turnover in those states rose across all sectors except for department stores. ABS highlighted food retailing as a strong performer, which increased 1.5% following declines in both February and March 2021. Notable gains were made by cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services, which increased by 2.5%

The uptick in retail sales coincides with the surge in ASX retail shares during April. Unfortunately, most ASX retail shares have struggled to hold onto those gains in May.

ASX retail shares surge in April but struggle in May

Many ASX retail shares staged major rallies into record territory in April.

Apparel and footwear retailer, Accent Group Ltd (ASX: AX1) had been grinding back and forth around the $2.20 per share level for most of 2021. Its shares staged a major rally in April to an all-time record high of $3.08 on 29 April. But after a rapid 30% move up, its shares have pulled back by around 15% and are currently trading at $2.63 at the time of writing.

Specialty retailer, Premier Investments Limited (ASX: PMV) also surged between March and mid-April, with its shares running a similar 30% from lows of $21.00 to record highs of $27.33. The Premier share price has since pulled back and, at Friday’s close, was trading at $25.21.

Other honourable mentions include Harvey Norman Holdings Limited (ASX: HVN), City Chic Collective Ltd (ASX: CCX) and Dusk Group Ltd (ASX: DSK) which also staged major rallies in April before pulling back in May.

At the larger end of town, the Wesfarmers Ltd (ASX: WES) share price also followed a similar narrative. The company’s shares rallied throughout late March and into April from $49 to $56 before a pullback to $54.21 as at today’s close.

The ABS highlighted that food retailing was a standout performer in April, which could be a factor behind the recent strength of the Collins Foods Ltd (ASX: CKF) share price. Collins Foods is a KFC and Taco Bell franchise holder in Australia and Europe, with more than 240 franchised KFC restaurants in Australia. Unlike its ASX retail peers that have struggled to hold onto gains, the Collins share price has not only rallied 22% since mid-March, but continues to remain near its all-time record high of $11.59.

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Motley Fool contributor Kerry Sun has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of and has recommended Premier Investments Limited. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of Wesfarmers Limited. The Motley Fool Australia has recommended Accent Group and Collins Foods Limited. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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