Retail sales headed up a seasonally adjusted 0.6% to $421.1 billion for May, according to a Commerce Department report (link opens in PDF) released today.

After oozing up 0.1% in April, these newest numbers exceeded analysts' month-to-month 0.5% growth estimate by 0.1 percentage points.

Although top-line numbers are on the rise, volatile motor vehicle sales provided half the punch for May's gains. Sales from motor vehicles and parts dealers increased 1.8% from April to May, the largest business-level increase of any sector. Excluding auto sales from overall numbers, retail sales increased 0.3% in May.



In the past year, nonstore retailers have boosted sales 11.3% for the largest gains, followed by a 10.1% increase for building material & garden equipment stores. Department store sales fell 0.2% from April to May, and are down 3.9% over the last 12 months.