The U.S. Department of Commerce reported that Advance Estimates of U.S. Retail and Food Services sales for May increased 0.6% from the prior month to a seasonally adjusted $421.1 billion, while sales rose 4.3% compared to the year-ago period. Year-over-year, this was the 43rd straight monthly rise and the strongest gain since January.
Total sales excluding autos were up 3.4% compared to last May and rose 0.3% from the prior month, while total sales less autos and gas stations showed a 4.2% year-on-year increase, as moderating prices at the pump helped boost discretionary spending power.
8 of 13 sectors posted growth over the prior month, led by Motor Vehicle & Parts Dealers (+1.8% MoM / +8.5% YoY), Building Material and Garden Equipment & Supplies Dealers (+0.9% MoM / +10.1% YoY), Miscellaneous Store Retailers (+1.2% MoM / +8.1% YoY) and Non-Store Retailers (+0.7% MoM / +11.3% YoY).
However, weakness was still apparent in discretionary categories, such as Electronics & Appliance Stores (-0.4% MoM / -0.5% YoY), Furniture & Home Furnishings Stores (-0.8% MoM / -0.5% YoY), General Merchandise Stores (-1.2% MoM / -4.9% YoY), Clothing & Accessories Stores (-0.2% MoM / +3.8% YoY) and most especially at Department Stores (-0.2% MoM / -3.9% YoY), which have posted 9 consecutive months of year-over-year declines and haven't posted an annual sales gain since 2004.