The Commerce Department said on retail sales gained 0.3% to $437.6 billion last month. Retail sales, which account for a third of consumer spending, rose by a revised 0.5% in April.
Economist had expected a 0.6% gain after a previously reported reported 0.1% rise in April.
The so-called core sales, which exclude automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services, –and correspond most closely with the consumer spending component of gross domestic product–were unchanged last month.
Slower Clothing, Accessories Sales
Core sales were, however, revised to show a 0.2% rise in April after previously being reported to have slipped 0.1%.
But when looking at the April/May period, economists saw reason for hope. Factoring in the April revision, the increase in sales in May was actually a bit larger than Wall Street had expected.
“The disappointing results for May were tempered a bit by upward revisions to sales in April,” said economist Michael Moran of Daiwa Capital Markets.
Nonetheless, there were soft spots, with sales falling in virtually every major category except autos and building materials. At clothing and clothing accessories retailers, sales were down 0.6% from April (but up 1.4% from May 2013). Sales declined at groceries, bars and restaurants, electronic and appliance sellers, department stores and companies that sell sporting goods and hobby items.
“Even though American consumers continue to be selective and price-sensitive, May sales were strong in many retail categories and sectors including building supply stores, furniture stores and nonstore retailers,” said Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist for the NRF.
The National Retail Federation calculated May retail sales, which exclude automobiles, gas stations and restaurants, unchanged seasonally adjusted month-to-month yet increased 3% unadjusted year-over-year.