May Retail Sales Up 5.6 Percent Over Last Year

May Retail Sales Up 5.6 Percent Over Last Year

May retail sales increased 0.7 percent seasonally adjusted over April and 5.6 percent unadjusted year-over-year, as a growing economy prompted consumers to continue to spend, the National Retail Federation said Thursday. The numbers exclude automobiles, gasoline stations and restaurants.

“The economy is looking strong and households have a solid financial foundation on which to base their spending,” said Jack Kleinhenz, NRF chief economist, noting increased take-home pay thanks in part to tax cuts, unemployment at a long-time low and good availability of consumer credit. “We have seen ongoing momentum over the last several months and believe sales growth should remain healthy and consistent with our 2018 outlook. Nonetheless, inflation and rising oil prices are complicating the picture. And new tariffs or a trade war would certainly be negatives that would increase prices and reduce both consumer purchasing power and consumer confidence.”

The three-month moving average was up 4.6 percent over the same period a year ago, topping NRF’s forecast that 2018 retail sales will grow between 3.8 percent and 4.4 percent over 2017.

The May results build on improvement seen in April, which was up 0.5 percent monthly and 2.8 percent year over year.

NRF’s numbers are based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, which said overall May sales—including automobiles, gasoline and restaurants—were up 0.8 percent seasonally adjusted from April and up 5.9 percent year-over-year.

Specifics from key retail sectors during May include:

  • Online and other non-store sales were up 9.1 percent year-over-year and up 0.1 percent over April, seasonally adjusted.
  • Clothing and clothing accessory stores were up 8.2 percent year-over-year and up 1.3 percent from April, seasonally adjusted.
  • General merchandise stores were up 5.6 percent year-over-year and up 1.2 percent from April, seasonally adjusted.
  • Building materials and garden supply stores were up 5.3 percent year-over-year and up 2.4 percent from April, seasonally adjusted.
  • Grocery and beverage stores were up 4.4 percent year-over-year and unchanged from April.
  • Furniture and home furnishings stores were up 4.2 percent year-over-year but down 2.4 percent from April, seasonally adjusted.
  • Electronics and appliance stores were up 2.8 percent year-over-year and up 0.2 percent from April, seasonally adjusted.
  • Health and personal care stores were up 2.6 percent year-over-year and up 0.5 percent from April, seasonally adjusted.
  • Sporting goods stores were down 0.5 percent year-over-year and down 1.1 percent from April, seasonally adjusted.