Retail Sales are the total amount of merchandise and related services sold to consumers. It is considered a sign of strength of U.S. Consumer spending, which accounts for roughly two-thirds of the economy. This indicator also provides insight into which areas of the retail space are experiencing strong sales.
In May, retail sales declined by 1.3% to $620.2 billion. Two of the broad categories that make up retail sales rose last month. Clothing and accessory sales increased by 3.0% to $25.2 billion. Sales at bars and restaurants grew by 1.8% to $67.3 billon and have now surpassed their pre-pandemic level. However, sales at electronics stores fell by 3.4% to $8.2 billion and sales at sporting goods and bookstores declined by 0.8% to $9.6 billion.
Retail sales were down last month as consumers largely shifted their spending from goods towards services. Now that places like bars and restaurants are allowed to operate at full capacity throughout most of the country, consumers are releasing all the pent-up demand from the past several months. Retail sales as a whole have surged by 28.1% since last year and sit well above pre-pandemic levels. Department store sales actually rose by 1.6% to $11.4 billion last month, while sales at non-store retailers declined by 0.8% to $87.9 billion. Consumers have plenty of money to spend and many of them are likely preparing to return to the office and other aspects of pre-pandemic life. Retail sales are expected to keep increasing as back-to-school shopping kicks off in the upcoming months.
June 15, 2021