Retail sales see big jump in May despite ‘stubborn’ inflation: NRF Retail Monitor

WASHINGTON — Retail sales saw a significant jump in May, both in month-over-month and year-over-year comparisons, according to the latest CNBC/NRF Retail Monitor released by the National Retail Federation.

Total retail sales, excluding auto sales and gasoline sales, were up 1.35 percent seasonally adjusted month over month and up 3.03% unadjusted year over for May. Both numbers show a major jump when compared to the 0.25% month-over-month increase and the 0.6% year-over-year decrease in April.

“Consumers have clearly retained their ability to spend and are driving solid economic growth,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Spending is being supported by the job market and real wage gains. Inflation remains stubborn but is almost entirely in services rather than retail goods. May’s year-over-year gains are in line with what we saw earlier this year, and the month-over-month increases are the largest in more than a year. We believe this underscores that April’s moderation was an outlier.”

The Retail Monitor calculation of core retail sales, which also excludes restaurants in addition to auto and gasoline sales, was up 1.2% month over month and up 2.88% year over year. For the first five months of the year, total sales were up 2.13% year over year, and core sales were up 2.48%. The month-over-month increases were the highest since April 2023.

Online sales, health and personal care stores, and clothing and accessory stores led the pack as sales increased in give out of nine retail categories on a yearly basis. On a monthly basis, sales were up in six of the nine categories.

Here are some specific highlights from the Monitor:

  • Furniture and home furnishings stores were down 0.14% month over month seasonally adjusted and down 3.21% year over year unadjusted.
  • Online and other non-store sales were up 2.09% month over month seasonally adjusted and up 17.91% year over year unadjusted.
  • Health and personal care stores were up 1.29% month over month seasonally adjusted and up 6.86% year over year unadjusted.
  • Clothing and accessories stores were up 1.44% month over month seasonally adjusted and up 6.24% year over year unadjusted.
  • General merchandise stores were up 1.31 percent month over month seasonally adjusted and up 4.89% year over year unadjusted.
  • Building and garden supply stores were down 0.6% month over month seasonally adjusted and down 0.53% year over year unadjusted.
  • Sporting goods, hobby, music and book stores were up 1.04% month over month seasonally adjusted but down 0.71% year over year unadjusted.

The Retail Monitor uses actual, anonymized credit and debit purchase data complied by Affinity Solutions, unlike the survey-based numbers collected by the Census Bureau, and does not need to be revised monthly or annually. More information on the Retail Monitors can be found online.

See also:

  • Despite high interest rates, consumers still willing to spend, NRF says
  • NRF Retail Monitor shows slight sales growth in April

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