NRF: Consumers Hold Back in May

The spur in economic activity hit a small speed bump last month as the latest retail sales report shows evidence of a more timid shopper.

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), May retail industry sales – which exclude automobiles, gas stations and restaurants –  decreased 1.4 percent seasonally adjusted over April and increased 2.7percent unadjusted year-over-year.
May retail sales released by the U.S. Commerce Department show total retail sales – which include non-general merchandise categories such as autos, gasoline stations and restaurants – decreased 1.2 percent seasonally adjusted over April and increased 6.3 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
“May retail sales results represent a reminder of the uncertainly that still exists in the economy,” says NRF President and CEO Matt Shay. “The road to recovery is paved with caution as consumers remain concerned about key indicators such as employment and housing.”
Adds Rosalind Wells, chief economist for NRF: “Even though May sales were not as strong as previous months, we remain encouraged by the steady pace of the economic recovery. Ultimately consumer momentum will be tied to our economy’s ability to add private sector jobs.”
While not as robust as seen over the course of the year so far, retail sales in some sectors did report slight increases. Sales at furniture and home furnishing stores increased 1.0 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month and 4.6 percent unadjusted year-over-year. Sporting goods, hobby, book and music store sales increased 0.4 percent seasonally adjusted from April and 3.3 percent unadjusted over last year. Electronics and appliance stores sales increased 0.6 percent seasonally adjusted from last month and 4.6 percent unadjusted over last year.
Clothing and clothing accessory store sales decreased 1.3 percent seasonally adjusted and increased 2.9 percent unadjusted.
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