Consumer spending is a good kind of flat


MoneyThe National Retail Federation isn’t all that disappointed that seasonally-adjusted May consumer spending is slightly down compared to April, because it is up nicely over May 2011.

According to NRF, a slight 0.3% downturn was experienced in the month-to-month comparison, but the year-over-year gain of 4.8% more than made up for the plateau.

The figures exclude automobile, gas station and restaurant expenditures.

“As the first industry to feel any backlash from consumers’ attitudes about the revival of the economy, retailers are far from discouraged by May’s sales report, it’s evident that consumers are simply taking a breath,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “Going forward, retailers will make sure to keep a steady eye on key economic indicators, being cautious with inventory and promotions as back to school – the second biggest time of the year – approaches.”

“This economy thus far is working like an old machine with many fits, starts and even some sputtering,” added NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz. “Overall though, consumers are benefiting from the slow but steady decline in gasoline prices and we expect growth will resume, and should pick up through the fall.”

NRF took a closer look at a handful of categories.

* Clothing and clothing accessories stores’ sales increased 0.9 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and increased 7.3 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

* Electronics and appliance stores’ sales increased 0.8 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and 1.2 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

* Furniture and home furnishing stores’ sales increased 0.4 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and 11.4 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

* Health and personal care stores’ sales decreased 0.1 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month but increased 3.1 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

* Sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores’ sales decreased 0.1 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month but increased 9.1 percent unadjusted year-over-year.