Core Retail Sales Decline 0.1% in May, Indicating Consumer Spending Slowdown

James Hyerczyk
Updated: Jun 19, 2024, 18:47 GMT+00:00

Key Points:

  • U.S. retail sales in May rose just 0.1%, falling short of the 0.3% forecast, highlighting weaker-than-expected consumer spending.
  • Core retail sales fell 0.1% in May, missing expectations and signaling a decline in consumer discretionary spending.
  • Nonstore retailers saw a 6.8% year-over-year growth in May, showcasing robust performance despite overall weak retail sales data.
Retail Sales

May Retail Sales Rise 0.1%, Weaker than Expected

Advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for May 2024 indicated a slight increase of 0.1%, falling short of the 0.3% forecast. The previous month’s figures were also revised downward to 0.2%, reflecting a weaker trend in consumer spending.

Retail Sales Analysis

Retail sales for May reached $703.1 billion, marking a 0.1% rise from April and a 2.3% increase from May 2023. The sales data, adjusted for seasonal variations and trading-day differences, highlight a moderate year-over-year growth but point to a subdued monthly performance.

Core Retail Sales, which exclude automotive and gasoline sales, fell by 0.1% in May, missing the 0.2% forecast. This segment saw the previous month’s data revised down to -0.1%, indicating a decline in consumer discretionary spending.

Trade Sales Insights

Retail trade sales showed a 0.2% increase from April 2024 and a 2.0% rise from the same period last year. Despite the modest monthly gain, the year-over-year growth suggests a steady but cautious consumer sentiment in the retail sector.

Nonstore retailers, encompassing online and mail-order businesses, experienced a robust 6.8% increase from May 2023, reflecting the ongoing strength in e-commerce. Meanwhile, food services and drinking places posted a 3.8% year-over-year growth, indicating a recovery in the hospitality sector.

Market Forecast

Given the weaker-than-expected retail sales data and downward revisions for previous months, the short-term outlook for the retail sector appears bearish. Traders should anticipate continued volatility as consumer spending shows signs of slowing, influenced by economic uncertainties and potential interest rate adjustments. This cautious sentiment may pressure retail stocks and related sectors in the near term.

About the Author

James is a Florida-based technical analyst, market researcher, educator and trader with 35+ years of experience. He is an expert in the area of patterns, price and time analysis as it applies to futures, Forex, and stocks.

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