It says lower sales were reported in eight of 11 subsectors, representing 78 per cent of retail sales.
In volume terms, retail sales were down 0.8 per cent, the third decline in four months.
The agency says lower sales in certain store types in April largely reflected the fact that warm weather in March pushed people to make spring purchases early.
The federal agency says sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers fell 1.2 per cent in April, with both new and used car dealers reporting declines.
Meanwhile, sales were down 2.8 per cent at clothing and clothing accessories stores following six straight monthly gains.
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