Retail Sales Up For 11th Straight Month, Though Consumer Spending Slows According to NRF
Washington, June 14, 2011 – Though retail sales rose for the 11th straight month in May, rising gas prices and a weak labor market took the steam out of consumer spending, with only a few retail sectors reporting growth.
According to the National Retail Federation, retail industry sales (which exclude automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants) for May increased 0.1 percent seasonally adjusted from April and 5.0 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
“Retailers are not surprised to see the momentum in consumer spending slowing, given the lackluster performance of employment and housing,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay.
“Long-term economic growth will be reliant on Congress and the Administration’s ability to support policies that promote private sector growth.”
“After a string of disappointing government reports relating to economic activity and employment, May’s retail report supports the idea of the economy hitting a soft patch,” said NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz.
“Though consumers are spending cautiously, we are not seeing them cut out new purchases completely, signaling there is a distinct appetite to spend if economic conditions let them.”
May retail sales released today by the U.S. Commerce Department show total retail sales (which include non-general merchandise categories such as autos, gasoline stations and restaurants) decreased 0.2 percent seasonally adjusted over April and increased 7.8 percent unadjusted year-over-year. Specific results include:
Health and personal care stores sales remained solid last month, increasing 0.8 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month and 5.6 percent unadjusted year-over-year. Seasonal weather also helped boost sales at clothing and clothing accessory stores, with sales increasing 0.2 percent seasonally adjusted over April and 4.6 percent unadjusted from last year.
Furniture and home furnishing stores sales decreased 0.7 percent seasonally adjusted over April and increased 0.6 percent unadjusted over April 2010.
Sales at electronics and appliance stores decreased 1.3 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month and 0.7 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
Surprisingly, seasonal weather helped boost building material and garden equipment stores sales, in spite of weak housing market reports. Sales at these stores increased 1.2 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month and a strong 11.3 percent unadjusted over last year.
“While retail has been a driving force of the recovery, the industry is not immune to factors like rising gas prices and weak housing,” said Shay. “We expect the pace of the recovery to pick up in time for the back-to-school season.”
As the world's largest retail trade association, NRF has the unique ability to represent the full breadth and scope of the retail industry. NRF's global membership includes retailers of all sizes, formats and channels of distribution including department stores, discount retailers, grocers, chain restaurants and drug stores.
Membership also includes industry partners from the United States and more than 45 countries abroad. In the United States, NRF represents the breadth and diversity of an industry with more than 1.6 million American companies that employ nearly 25 million workers and generated 2010 sales of $2.4 trillion. www.nrf.com