Retail Sales Rebounded Strongly In May In Latest Census Bureau Data

Retail and food service sales jumped 17.7 percent in May from April’s level to $485.5 billion, the U.S. Census Bureau reports. For April, the Census Bureau had registered a 14.7-percent slump in the sector. While still 6.1-percent down from the year-ago level, retail’s sizable month-to-month growth has some observers wondering if this is a sign of a quick recovery to the pandemic-induced recession.

The U.S. Census Bureau’s advance estimate for May 2020, released today, reports that total sales in the retail and food service category for the period extending from March 2020 to May 2020 is down 10.5 percent from the same period last year. Breaking down its findings further, retail trade sales in May were up 16.8 percent from April 2020, but 1.4 percent below last year. Non-store retailers were up 30.8 percent from May 2019, while building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers were up 16.4 percent from last year.

“Our retail clients are actively engaging us,” says Danny Rosin, CAS, co-president of Morrisville, North Carolina, distributor Brand Fuel. “We are curating presentations surrounding in-store messaging and promotion signage, flair and apparel for staff which includes accompanying branded masks. This activity in the growing retail sector is similar to what we are experiencing with clients in other industries as well. While sales are not happening like 2019’s firehose, clients are preparing for sales and marketing activities to come back to some extent. So, we are creating a lot more presentations as well as doing a lot of following up, waiting and hoping."

May’s figure is more than double the 8.4 percent month-to-month increase that economists had been expecting, Bloomberg reports. The largest gains in the Census Bureau’s report were in clothing and clothing accessories, which climbed 188 percent from April’s level. Furniture and home-furnishings sales climbed 89.7 percent, while stores offering sporting goods, hobbies, musical instruments and books rose 88 percent. Sales of electronics and appliances increased 50.5 percent while vehicle sales were up 44.1 percent and restaurant sales climbed 29.1 percent.

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