May retail sales increased by 0.7% seasonally adjusted over April and 5.6% unadjusted year-over-year as a growing economy prompted consumers to continue to spend, according to the National Retail Federation
“The economy is looking strong and households have a solid financial foundation on which to base their spending”, National Retail Federation (NRF) Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said, noting increased take-home pay thanks in part to tax cuts, unemployment at a long-time low and good availability of consumer credit. “We have seen ongoing momentum over the last several months and believe sales growth should remain healthy and consistent with our 2018 outlook. Nonetheless, inflation and rising oil prices are complicating the picture. And new tariffs or a trade war would certainly be negatives that would increase prices and reduce both consumer purchasing power and consumer confidence.”
The three-month moving average was up by 4.6% over the same period a year ago, topping NRF’s forecast that 2018 retail sales will grow between 3.8% and 4.4% over 2017. May results build on improvement seen in April, which was up by 0.5% monthly and 2.8% year over year.
NRF’s numbers are based on data from the US Census Bureau, which said overall May sales – including automobiles, gasoline and restaurants – were up by 0.8% seasonally adjusted from April and up by 5.9% year-over-year.
Clothing and clothing accessory stores were up by 8.2% year-over-year and up by 1.3% from April seasonally adjusted. Sporting goods stores were down by 0.5 percent year-over-year and down by 1.1% from April seasonally adjusted.
Other specifics from key retail sectors during May include online and other non-store sales were up 9.1% year-over-year and up 0.1% over April seasonally adjusted.
NRF is the world’s largest retail trade association, representing discount and department stores, home goods and specialty stores, Main Street merchants, grocers, wholesalers, chain restaurants and Internet retailers from the United States and more than 45 countries. Retail is the nation’s largest private-sector employer, supporting one in four US jobs – 42 million working Americans. NRF estimates retail to contribute 2.6 trillion US dollars to annual GDP.