Retail federation: Economy is picking up

Freeman Staff

June 15, 2019

WAUKESHA - Retail sales increased a half-percent in May compared to April, and 3.2% adjusted year-over-year, according to the National Retail Federation on Friday. The numbers exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants.

“Today’s retail numbers, and upward revisions to prior months, reinforce the ongoing strength of the consumer and are consistent with a pick up in the pace of the economy in the coming months. The strong job market, recent income gains and elevated confidence translates into ongoing support for spending. Households, in the aggregate, are in solid financial condition but an escalation in trade tariffs will undoubtedly create a considerable downdraft to confidence and spending, or lead to a pullback in spending,” said NRF Chief Economic Jack Kleinhenz in a statement.

Revisions to the NRF April monthly data changed from a loss of 0.2% to a gain of 0.3%.

Retail sales data “has been unusually choppy given the economic environment in recent months,” with the NRF citing the partial government shutdown, volatile energy prices, roller coaster equity markets and escalating trade tensions as factors.

Specifics from key retail sectors during May include:

 Online and other non-store sales were up 11.4% year-over-year and up 1.4% month-over-month seasonally adjusted.

 General merchandise stores were up 4.4% year-over-year and up 0.7% month-over-month seasonally adjusted.

 Grocery and beverage stores were up 2.3% year-over-year and down 0.1% month-over-month seasonally adjusted.

 Furniture and home furnishings stores were up 1.2% year-over-year and up 0.1% month-over-month seasonally adjusted.

 Building materials and garden supply stores were down 1.4% year-over-year but up 0.1% month-over month seasonally adjusted.