Retail Sales Jump in May

Improvements in consumer confidence, income and employment encourage consumers to spend
June 15, 2015David Gill

Census BureauWASHINGTON-U.S. retail sales finished May at an adjusted total of $444.9 billion, up 1.2 percent from April and 2.7 percent better than May of last year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s monthly retail sales report.

In the channels that sell home furnishings, furniture and home furnishings stores recorded a gain of 0.8 percent month to month and a robust 6.2 percent year over year. General merchandise stores’ sales were up 0.8 percent from April to May but down 0.4 percent from May of last year.

Department stores’ sales (excluding leased departments) gained 0.8 percent month to month but fell 3 percent from last year. Sales at nonstore retailers (which include catalogs and online) edged up 1.4 percent from April and jumped 7.8 percent from last year.

Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist with the National Retail Federation, said favorable behavior in key economic indicators helped boost the overall sales total. “With consumer confidence, employment and income improving, consumers were encouraged to open their wallets in May,” Kleinhenz said.

This also bodes well for retailers looking ahead at the rest of this year, Kleinhenz said. “Latest economic data show improvement in the economy, and we expect stronger sales growth as jobs and incomes pick up,” he said. “Nonetheless, stronger wage growth will be necessary to sustain further gains in retail sales.”

David GillDavid Gill | Senior Editor

David Gill covers home textiles, small electrics housewares, personal-care products, cleaning products, mattresses, consumer electronics and major appliances. He also reports on retailers and writes about the business and financial side of both vendors and retailers. He has more than 30 years of experience in business journalism, and has worked for other publications and websites that cover consumer products from both the manufacturer and retailer sides. His outside interests include sports (he is a big fan of the New York teams and of British soccer), cooking, movies and theater. He occasionally enjoys a good cigar as well.


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