WASHINGTON — U.S. retail sales increased 0.5% in May (seasonally adjusted from April), and were up 3.2% unadjusted year over year, according to the National Retail Federation.
May’s retail sales increases were broad based, with every category except food and beverage stores showing a gain from April, NRF said. The numbers exclude sales at automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants.
Revisions to April monthly data were significant, NRF said, with retail sales reversing a loss of 0.2% to a gain of 0.3%.
“Today’s retail numbers, and upward revisions to prior months, reinforce the ongoing strength of the consumer and are consistent with a pick up in the pace of the economy in the coming months,” said Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist at NRF. “The strong job market, recent income gains and elevated confidence translates into ongoing support for spending. Households, in the aggregate, are in solid financial condition but an escalation in trade tariffs will undoubtedly create a considerable downdraft to confidence and spending, or lead to a pullback in spending.”
NRF characterized recent retail sales data as unusually choppy due to an economic environment that included a partial government shutdown, volatile energy prices, roller-coaster equity markets and escalating trade tensions.
The NRF’s numbers are based on data supplied by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Specifics from key retail sectors during May include:
• Stores that sell groceries and beverages were up 2.3% year over year but were down 0.1% month over month, on a seasonally adjusted basis.
• General merchandise stores were up 4.4% year over year and up 0.7% month over month, seasonally adjusted.
• Health and personal care stores were up 3.8% year over year and up 0.6% month over month, seasonally adjusted.
• Clothing and clothing acces-
sory stores were down 2.4% year over year and unchanged month over month, seasonally adjusted.
• Online and other non-store sales were up 11.4% year over year and up 1.4% month over month, seasonally adjusted.
• Furniture and home furnishings stores were up 1.2% year over year and up 0.1% month over month, seasonally adjusted.
• Building materials and garden supply stores were down 1.4% year over year but up 0.1% month over month, seasonally adjusted.
• Electronics and appliance stores were down 1.9% year over year, but were up 1.1% month over month, seasonally adjusted.
• Sporting goods stores were down 2.4% year over year but up 1.1% month over month, seasonally adjusted.