NRF: May Retail Sales Gain, April Figures Revised Up

The National Retail Federation has reported that retail sales, excluding automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants, rose 0.5% in May seasonally adjusted from April and 3.2% unadjusted year-over-year.

The U.S. Census Bureau, which gathers the retail sales data, made significant revisions to April monthly data, NRF pointed out. On assessment, the commerce department indicated that retail sales gained 0.3% in April rather than losing 0.2%, which was the preliminary number published.

NRF noted that assessing retail sales data recently has been difficult due to effects arising from the partial government shutdown, volatile energy prices, roller coaster equity markets and trade tensions.

May’s retail sales increases versus April were broad based, with all segments gaining except food and beverage stores. May sales in the retail trade segments:

  • Online and other non-store sales increased 11.4% year-over-year and 1.4% month-over-month seasonally adjusted.
  • General merchandise stores increased 4.4% year-over-year and 0.7% month-over-month seasonally adjusted.
  • Health and personal care stores increased 3.8% year-over-year and 0.6% month-over-month seasonally adjusted.
  • Grocery and beverage stores increased 2.3% year-over-year but decreased 0.1% month-over-month seasonally adjusted.
  • Furniture and home furnishings stores increased 1.2% year-over-year and 0.1% month-over-month seasonally adjusted.
  • Building materials and garden supply stores decreased 1.4% year-over-year but increased 0.1% month-over-month seasonally adjusted.
  • Electronics and appliance stores decreased 1.9% year-over-year but increased 1.1% month-over-month seasonally adjusted.
  • Sporting goods stores decreased 2.4% year-over-year but increased 1.1% month-over-month seasonally adjusted.
  • Clothing and clothing accessory stores decreased 2.4% year-over-year but remained unchanged month-over-month seasonally adjusted.

“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, NRF chief economist. “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.”