Retail Sales Fall for Second Month in a Row

Retail sales fell 0.2 percent in May, the Commerce Department reported—the second month in a row they have fallen—in what analysts saw as an indicator of a pullback in consumer spending.

Sales were still up 5.3 percent from the prior year.

The National Retail Federation reported similar numbers, finding that sales decreased 0.3 percent seasonally adjusted from April, but increased 4.8 percent unadjusted year-over-year, marking 23 consecutive months of retail growth.

NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz said he still expected economic growth to continue.

“This economy thus far is working like an old machine with many fits, starts, and even some sputtering,” Kleinhenz said in a statement. “Overall though, consumers are benefiting from the slow but steady decline in gasoline prices and we expect growth will resume, and should pick up through the fall.”

Sales from clothing and clothing accessories stores, the category that includes jewelry, increased 0.9 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month, the NRF found, and increased 7.3 percent unadjusted year-over-year.