Consumers' spending habits were revived in May as retailers showed healthy sales gains across the board, helping to ease concerns about a slowing economy. According to the National Retail Federation, retail industry sales for May (which exclude automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants) rose 4.7% unadjusted over last year and 1.1% seasonally adjusted from April.
May retail sales released by the Commerce Department show total retail sales (which include non-general merchandise categories such as autos, gasoline stations and restaurants) increased 1.4% seasonally adjusted from last month and a solid 5.4 % unadjusted year-over-year.
Industry sales in most sectors saw strong gains. Clothing and clothing accessories stores sales surged well past expectations, seeing a 2.7% increase seasonally adjusted over last month, and a strong 9.1% increase unadjusted year-over-year. Health and personal care stores sales rose 0.8% seasonally adjusted from last month and 6.5% unadjusted over last year.
Showing the effect of the weak housing market, building material stores sales rose 2.1% seasonally adjusted from last month, but decreased 0.7% unadjusted over last year. Furniture and home furnishing stores sales rose a subdued 0.3% seasonally adjusted and 2.9% unadjusted over last year.