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Without stimulus checks from government this year, consumers had less money to spend last month, and the result was lower retail sales. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), retail industry sales for May (excluding automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants) grew 0.2 percent seasonally adjusted from April but dropped 4.7 percent unadjusted over last year.
May retail sales released this week by the U.S. Commerce Department show total retail sales, which include non-general merchandise categories such as autos, gasoline stations and restaurants, rose 0.5 percent seasonally adjusted over April and fell 11.1 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
“With no direct stimulus for consumers this year, retailers were left with tougher comparisons, making May retail sales appear weak,” said NRF chief economist Rosalind Wells. “However, a slight sales increase from April provides hope that the economic turnaround may not be that far off.”
Sales at building material, garden equipment and supplies dealers went up 1.3 percent seasonally adjusted from April but declined 12.8 percent unadjusted year-over-year. Sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores sales dipped 0.8 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month and dropped 2.6 percent unadjusted over April. Sales at clothing and clothing accessories stores edged up 0.4 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month, but decreased 8.9 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
Despite the lack of extra funds, consumers were still spending freely on necessities: sales at health and personal care stores increased 0.7 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month and 3.3 percent unadjusted year-over-year.