Home Fashions Lags as Retail Grows

Don Hogsett, Staff Staff, June 18, 2007

With consumers flocking to the malls, and buying new cars and filling up the tank to get there, U.S. retail sales unexpectedly climbed by 1.4% in May to their highest level in 15 months, to a seasonally adjusted $377.9 billion, the Commerce Department reported.

Measured on a year-over-year basis, sales climbed higher by 5.0% from their level of May 2006.

The strongest retail channel during May was gas stations, where sales surged ahead by 3.8% forced up by higher prices at the pump. Car sales did their part as well, rising by 1.8% and more than making up for a 0.5% dip the month before.

Underlining the breadth and strength of May sales, not a single retail channel lost ground during May, the first time in recent memory that all retail formats made gains.

Seasonal categories were predictably strong, with do-it-yourselfers driving a 2.1% increase at building material and garden supply outlets. Results were mixed at other home-related formats. Electronics and appliance sales grew 1.3%, but furniture and home furnishings stores grew at a modest 0.3% pace.

Consumers stocked up on shorts and t-shirts, or dressed up for graduation, pushing sales at clothing and accessory stores up by 2.7%, making that channel the second-strongest performer during May.

Retail Sales in May
(by channel)

Source: U.S. Department of Commerce
Gas stations 3.8%
Bldg. mat./garden supplies 2.1
Car dealers 1.8
Sport. goods, books, music 1.8
Department stores 1.3
Electronics & appliances 1.3
Health & personal care 0.8
Restaurants & bars 0.7
Grocery stores 0.3
Furn. & home furn. stores 0.3
Non-store retailers 0.1
None. Every channel gained in May.

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