Taking gasoline sales out of the equation, consumer spending increased by just 0.2 percent.
The core sales index, which excludes autos, gas sales and building materials, increased 0.4 percent.
Some economists have said the warmer-than-average winter helped sales pick up earlier this year, leading to a tapering off this spring, despite lower gas prices.
Consumer spending, which accounts for 70 percent of economic activity, is key to a more robust economic recovery.
Still, there are signs that consumers are willing to spend, including a pick-up in sales at restaurants and purchases of electronics and sporting goods.
“The expected shortfall in April retail sales reflects the seasonal shift in consumer spending at this time each year,” said Jack Kleinhenz, NRF's chief economist.
“With Easter a full 20 days earlier this year and unseasonably warm weather, consumers started spending as early as February and March on everything from spring apparel to newly-released electronic items," he said.
Furniture and home furnishing sales increased 0.7 percent, clothing sales fell 0.7 percent, sporting goods, book and music sales were up 0.7 percent, building material and garden equipment and supplies sales dropped 1.8 percent and electronics and appliance sales increased 0.2 percent in April, according to the Commerce report.