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U.S. Commerce Department Reports Slight Sales Increase

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said he sees a conservative uptick in the U.S. economy, based on the country’s retail and food services sales in May – which proved better than April’s results.

The U.S. Commerce Department’s Census Bureau reported that U.S. nominal retail sales rose 0.5% in last month. Motor vehicle and parts sales also rose 0.5% in May and gasoline sales also increased, but by more, at 3.6%, partly reflecting the renewed rise in prices. And other sales edged up 0.1%.

“Today’s numbers reflect improving consumer confidence,” Locke said in a statement. “The Recovery Act is making life a little easier for families and businesses, and there are early signs of progress across the country.”

But, he warned, May sales “are still below their first-quarter average, reminding us of how difficult the economic environment remains.”