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Retail Sales Down 0.2 Percent in May

Posted on June 14, 2011 by HFN Staff

WASHINGTON-In an indication that consumer spending is slowing, U.S. retail sales slipped 0.2 percent in May, totaling $387.1 billion, according to this morning's report from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The overall total was 7.7 percent ahead of U.S. retail sales in May 2010. Looking at the performance in the home-goods retail channels, May sales at furniture and home-furnishings stores dropped 0.7 percent from April and rose 0.4 percent year over year. Sales at general-merchandise stores dropped 0.1 percent from April and rose 4.1 percent over May of last year. Department stores logged decreases of 0.7 percent from April and 0.5 percent from last year.

"Retailers are not surprised to see the momentum in consumer spending slowing, given the lackluster performance of employment and housing," said Matthew Shay, president and CEO of the National Retail Federation.

Yet NRF has also spotted some green shoots, according to its 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," Kleinhenz said.