U.S. Retail Soared in May; Clothing and Accessory Stores Up 8.2%

In Reports, What's New, Industry News by Lauren Parker, Accessories Magazine

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

Online and other non-store sales were up 9.1% year-over-year and up 0.1% over April seasonally adjusted, while clothing and clothing accessory stores were up 8.2% year-over-year and up 1.3% from April seasonally adjusted.

“The economy is looking strong and households have a solid financial foundation on which to base their spending,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said, noting increased take-home pay thanks in part to tax cuts, unemployment at a long-time low and good availability of consumer credit.

Retail Sales 2018

Source Commerce Department via FRED/Marketwatch

“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% over the same period a year ago, topping NRF’s forecast that 2018 retail sales will grow between 3.8% and 4.4% over 2017.  The May results build on improvement seen in April, which was up 0.5% monthly and 2.8% 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% seasonally adjusted from April and up 5.9% year-over-year.

Specifics from key retail sectors during May include:

  • Online and other non-store sales were up 9.1% year-over-year and up 0.1% over April seasonally adjusted.

  • Clothing and clothing accessory stores were up 8.2% year-over-year and up 1.3% from April seasonally adjusted.

  • General merchandise stores were up 5.6% year-over-year and up 1.2% from April seasonally adjusted.
  • Building materials and garden supply stores were up 5.3% year-over-year and up 2.4% from April seasonally adjusted.
  • Grocery and beverage stores were up 4.4% year-over-year and unchanged from April.
  • Furniture and home furnishings stores were up 4.2% year-over-year but down 2.4% from April seasonally adjusted.
  • Electronics and appliance stores were up 2.8% year-over-year and up 0.2% from April seasonally adjusted.
  • Health and personal care stores were up 2.6% year-over-year and up 0.5% from April seasonally adjusted.
  • Sporting goods stores were down 0.5% year-over-year and down 1.1% from April seasonally adjusted.
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