May Retail Sales Beat Expectations
United States retail sales rose more than expected in May as consumers bought a range of goods, suggesting economic growth was gaining steam despite a slowdown in job creation, according to a Reuters report.
The United States Commerce Department recently reported retail sales increased 0.5% last month after surging by an unrevised 1.3% in April, lifting sales 2.5% compared to a year ago. Excluding automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services, retail sales rose a solid 0.4% last month after an upwardly revised 1.0% increase in April.
Tepid employment gains in May stirred concerns about the health of the economy. But so far, data on first-time applications for unemployment benefits suggests the strength of the labor market remains intact, according to Reuters. Sales at clothing stores increased 0.8%, the largest gain since November, while online retail sales increased 1.3%. Likewise, receipts at sporting goods and hobby stores also jumped 1.3%.
Sales at electronics and appliance outlets gained 0.3%, but sales at building materials and garden equipment stores fell 1.8% after declining 2.0% in April. Furniture-store sales dipped 0.1%. — J.L.