NRF: May retail sales up, but consumer spending still slow 

Retail Editor 1, June 14, 2011

Washington  - On an 11-consecutive-month roll, retail sales were up again in May, said the National Retail Federation.

However, higher gas prices and an anemic labor market "took the steam out of consumer spending, with only a few retail sectors reporting growth," added the NRF, which found that retail industry sales - excluding automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants - ticked up 0.1% seasonally adjusted from April and 5.0% unadjusted year-over-year.

NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz said: "After a string of disappointing government reports relating to economic activity and employment, May's retail report supports the idea of the economy hitting a soft patch. Though consumers are spending cautiously, we are not seeing them cut out new purchases completely, signaling there is a distinct appetite to spend if economic conditions let them."

May retail sales released today by the U.S. Commerce Department show total retail sales - including non-general merchandise categories such as autos, gasoline stations and restaurants - fell 0.2% seasonally adjusted over April and were up 7.8% unadjusted year-over-year.

Furniture and home furnishing stores sales decreased 0.7% seasonally adjusted over April and increased 0.6% unadjusted over April 2010.

And "surprisingly, seasonal weather helped boost building material and garden equipment stores sales, in spite of weak housing market reports," NRF said, as sales at these types of stores increased 1.2% seasonally adjusted month-to-month and a strong 11.3% unadjusted over last year.

NRF said it expects the pace of the recovery to pick up in time for the back-to-school season.




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