Consumer spending slowed in May, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). May retail sales—excluding automobiles, gas stations and restaurants—were down to a seasonally adjusted 0.3 percent from April. However, May’s numbers still represent a 4.8-percent increase measured year-over-year—the 23rd month of consecutive retail sales growth.
NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay adds perspective to the figures, saying: “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. 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.”
The U.S. Department of Commerce’s May retail sales—showing total retail and food services sales and incorporating non-general merchandise categories such as automobiles, gas stations and restaurants—revealed a 0.2 percent decline in seasonally adjusted sales, month-to-month, but up 7.1 percent in unadjusted figures from the same month in 2011.
“This economy thus far is working like an old machine with many fits, starts and even some sputtering,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “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.”