Retail and food services sales increased a seasonally adjusted 0.3%, to $438 billion for May, according to a Commerce Department report (link opens as PDF) released today.
Although May's numbers failed to meet analyst expectations of 0.6% growth, this latest report also included a strong upward revision to April's growth -- from 0.1% to 0.5%.
Top-line numbers look more lackluster when accounting for more volatile automobile and gasoline sales. Auto sales increased 1.4% for May, putting retail sales, less motor vehicles, at 0.1% growth compared to analysts' 0.4% expectations. When excluding gasoline's 0.4% month-over-month gain, as well, retail sales actually stayed flat from April to May.
Outside of these two sectors, "miscellaneous store retailers" (e.g., florists and pet shops) led sales with a 1.8% increase, while clothing and general merchandise stores tied for last place with a 0.6% drop .
Over the last year, retail sales are up 4.3%, pushed ahead primarily by strong auto sales (+10.4%).
While neither top-line nor core numbers provided any pleasant surprises, this latest report indicates that with stronger April retail sales and a solid boost in auto sales, the retail sector is pushing steadily ahead.