NRF Says Retail Sales Increased Again in May

Retail sales rose again in May as consumers continued to spend despite economic challenges, the National Retail Federation (NRF) said on June 15.

“Consumers continued to spend on household priorities in May, supported by gains in the job market and wages,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Retailers recognize the ongoing pressure on cost-sensitive consumers and are offering competitive pricing, a wide product mix, and convenient shopping options to help stretch family budgets.”

NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said, “This was a positive report with no sign of an abruptly slowing economy despite what has happened with inflation and interest rate pressures. Even though shoppers dialed back in some categories on a year-over-year basis, these numbers confirm that consumers still have the capacity to spend. Job growth and wages are providing buoyancy, although inflation continues to take a bite out of consumer income. May is typically a strong month for retail as spring shopping hits its peak, but above-average temperatures and below-average precipitation no doubt played a favorable role.”

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The US Census Bureau said overall retail sales in May were up 0.3% from April and up 1.6% year over year. In April, sales were up 0.4% month over month and up 1.2% year over year.

NRF’s calculation of retail sales—which excludes automobile dealers, gasoline stations, and restaurants to focus on core retail—showed May was up 0.4% from April and up 4.4% unadjusted year over year. In April, sales were up 0.6% month over month and up 1.4% year over year. NRF’s numbers were up 3% unadjusted year over year on a three-month moving average as of May. Sales were up 4.2% year over year for the first five months of the year.

May sales were up in six out of nine retail categories on a yearly basis, led by health and personal care stores, online sales and grocery and beverage stores, and across the board on a monthly basis. Specifics from key sectors include:

  • Health and personal care stores were unchanged month over month seasonally adjusted but up 9.7% unadjusted year over year.
  • Online and other non-store sales were up 0.3% month over month seasonally adjusted and up 8.7% unadjusted year over year.
  • Grocery and beverage stores were up 0.3% month over month seasonally adjusted and up 3.7% unadjusted year over year.
  • Sporting goods stores were up 0.3% month over month seasonally adjusted and up 2.5% unadjusted year over year.
  • Building materials and garden supply stores were up 2.2% month over month seasonally adjusted and up 1.9% unadjusted year over year.
  • General merchandise stores were up 0.4% month over month seasonally adjusted and up 1.7% unadjusted year over year.
  • Clothing and clothing accessory stores were unchanged month over month seasonally adjusted but down 0.2% unadjusted year over year.
  • Electronics and appliance stores were up 0.2% month over month seasonally adjusted but down 4.1% unadjusted year over year.
  • Furniture and home furnishings stores were up 0.4% month over month seasonally adjusted but down 4.5% unadjusted year over year.

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