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NRF: Retail sales jump in May; largest month-over-month gain in over a year

U.S. discretionary general merchandise retail sales revenue fell 7% in March.
Core sales were up 2.48% for the first five months of the year.

Retail sales rose significantly, showing strong increases both month-over-month and year-over-year, as consumers continued to spend and drive growth.

Total retail sales (excluding automobiles and gasoline but including restaurants) rose 1.35% month-over-month in May and were up 3.03% year-over-year, according to the CNBC/Retail Monitor released Monday by the National Retail Federation (NRF). That compared with an increase of 0.26% month-over-month and a decrease of 0.6% year-over-year in April.

Core retail sales (excluding automobiles, gasoline and restaurants) rose 1.2% month-over-month in May and were up 2.88% year-over-year. That compared with an increase of 0.4% month-over-month and a decrease of 0.05% year-over-year in April.

“Spending is being supported by the job market and real wage gains. Inflation remains stubborn but is almost entirely in services rather than retail goods,” said NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay. “May’s year-over-year gains are in line with what we saw earlier this year, and the month-over-month increases are the largest in more than a year.”

Total sales were up 2.13% year-over-year for the first five months of the year and core sales were up 2.48%. The month-over-month gains were the highest since April 2023, when total sales were up 1.13% and core sales were up 1.27%.

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Specifics from key sectors are below.

  • Online and other non-store sales were up 2.09% month-over-month and up 17.91% year-over-year.
  • Health and personal care stores were up 1.29% month-over-month and up 6.86% year-over-year.
  • Clothing and accessories stores were up 1.44% month-over-month and up 6.24% year-over-year.
  • General merchandise stores were up 1.31% month-over-month and up 4.89% year-over-year.
  • Grocery and beverage stores were up 1.97% month-over-month and up 2.53% year-over-year.
  • Building and garden supply stores were down 0.6% month-over-month and down 0.53% year-over-year.
  • Sporting goods, hobby, music and book stores were up 1.04% month-over-month but down 0.71% year-over-year.
  • Electronics and appliance stores were down 0.05% month-over-month  adjusted and down 0.87% year-over-year.
  • Furniture and home furnishings stores were down 0.14% month-over-month seasonally adjusted and down 3.21% year-over-year.

Unlike survey-based numbers collected by the Census Bureau, the Retail Monitor uses actual, anonymized credit and debit card purchase data compiled by Affinity Solutions and does not need to be revised monthly or annually.

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