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May Retail Sales Report: Relief for the Economy?


Jun. 17 2019, Updated 7:35 a.m. ET

May retail sales data 

On June 14, the U.S. Census Bureau announced the advance estimates for US retail and food services sales in May. The numbers indicated increased consumer spending. The data allowed the economy to breathe a sigh of relief. Among the 13 reporting categories, two reported month-over-month decreases. US retail sales rose 0.5% month-over-month in May. The retail sales were below the market expectation of an increase by 0.6%.

The categories that reported decreases in May are as follows:

  • Food and beverage stores fell 0.1% month-over-month after a 1.6% increase in April and a 1.6% increase YoY (year-over-year).
  • Miscellaneous store retailers fell 1.3% month-over-month and 2.6% YoY.

The other categories that increased in May are as follows:

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  • Gas stations rose 0.3% month-over-month after a 3.2% increase in April and a 2.1% increase YoY.
  • Motor vehicle and parts dealers rose 0.7% month-over-month after a 3.1% increase in April and a 0.5% decrease YoY.
  • Building material stores rose 0.1% month-over-month after a 0.2% increase in April and a 0.6% decrease YoY.
  • Electronics and appliance stores rose 1.1% month-over-month after a 2.4% decrease in April and a 1.3% decrease YoY.
  • Health and personal care stores rose 0.6% month-over-month after a 3.4% increase in April and a 0.2% increase YoY.
  • Non-store retailers rose 1.4% month-over-month after an 11.4% increase in April and a 0.5% increase YoY.
  • Hobby, musical instrument, and book stores rose 1.1% month-over-month after a 4.2% decline in April and a 1.0% increase YoY.
  • Restaurants and bars rose 0.7% month-over-month after a 3.7% increase in April and a 0.3% increase YoY.
  • General merchandise stores rose 0.7% month-over-month after a 3.3% increase in March and a 0.8% increase YoY.

In the first quarter, there were doubts about the economy’s health due to rising trade war tensions and the struggling labor market. On June 14, the retail sales report was a relief for the economy. The Consumer Discretionary Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLY) tracks the S&P 500 Consumer Discretionary Index. XLY rose 0.21% on June 14. XLY has risen 19.6% YTD (year-to-date).

The Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLP) tracks the S&P 500 Consumer Staples Index. XLP rose 0.05% on June 14. XLP has risen 16.3% YTD. The SPDR S&P Retail ETF (XRT) tracks the S&P Retail Select Industry Index. XRT fell 0.23% on June 14. XRT has risen 2.7% YTD.


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