Retail Sales Jumped In May After Slow April, NRF Reports


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Washington — Retail sales jumped significantly in May, showing strong increases both month over month and year over year, according to CNBC/NRF Retail Monitor, powered by Affinity Solutions, released by the National Retail Federation (NRF).

“Consumers have clearly retained their ability to spend and are driving solid economic growth,” says NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “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.”

Total retail sales, excluding automobiles and gasoline, were up 1.35 percent seasonally adjusted month over month and up 3.03 percent unadjusted year over year in May, according to the Retail Monitor. That compared with an increase of 0.26 percent month over month and a decrease of 0.6 percent year over year in April.

The Retail Monitor calculation of core retail sales (excluding restaurants in addition to automobiles and gasoline) was up 1.2 percent month over month in May and up 2.88 percent year over year. That compared with an increase of 0.4 percent month over month and a decrease of 0.05 percent year over year in April.

Total sales were up 2.13 percent year over year for the first five months of the year and core sales were up 2.48 percent. The month-over-month gains were the highest since April 2023, when total sales were up 1.13 percent and core sales were up 1.27 percent.

Retail Monitor uses actual, anonymized credit and debit card purchase data compiled by Affinity Solutions and does not need to be revised monthly or annually.

May sales were up in five out of nine retail categories on a yearly basis, led by online sales, health and personal care stores, and clothing and accessory stores. Sales were up in all but three categories on a monthly basis. Specifics from key sectors include:

  • Online and other non-store sales were up 2.09 percent month over month seasonally adjusted and up 17.91 percent year over year unadjusted.
  • Health and personal care stores were up 1.29 percent month over month seasonally adjusted and up 6.86 percent year over year unadjusted.
  • Clothing and accessories stores were up 1.44 percent month over month seasonally adjusted and up 6.24 percent year over year unadjusted.
  • General merchandise stores were up 1.31 percent month over month seasonally adjust-ed and up 4.89 percent year over year unadjusted.
  • Grocery and beverage stores were up 1.97 percent month over month seasonally adjusted and up 2.53 percent year over year unadjusted.
  • Building and garden supply stores were down 0.6 percent month over month seasonally adjusted and down 0.53 percent year over year unadjusted.
  • Sporting goods, hobby, music and book stores were up 1.04 percent month over month seasonally adjusted but down 0.71 percent year over year unadjusted.
  • Electronics and appliance stores were down 0.05 percent month over month seasonally adjusted and down 0.87 percent year over year unadjusted.
  • Furniture and home furnishings stores were down 0.14 percent month over month seasonally adjusted and down 3.21 percent year over year unadjusted.