Retail Sales Lower Than Expected in May

The Census Bureau's Advance Retail Sales Report for May revealed headline sales rose 0.1% in May. The latest reading was below the expected 0.3% monthly rise in consumer spending.

For an inflation-adjusted perspective on retail sales, take a look at our Real Retail Sales commentary.

Retail Sales Month Over Month

Here is the introduction from today's report:

Advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for May 2024, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $703.1 billion, up 0.1 percent (±0.4 percent)* from the previous month, and up 2.3 percent (±0.5 percent) above May 2023. Total sales for the March 2024 through May 2024 period were up 2.9 percent (±0.5 percent) from the same period a year ago. The March 2024 to April 2024 percent change was revised from virtually unchanged (±0.4 percent)* to down 0.2 percent (±0.2 percent)*.

Retail trade sales were up 0.2 percent (±0.4 percent)* from April 2024, and up 2.0 percent (±0.5 percent) above last year. Nonstore retailers were up 6.8 percent (±1.4 percent) from last year, while food services and drinking places were up 3.8 percent (±2.3 percent) from May 2023.