U.S. retail sales drop 1.3% in May after 2 months of gains

Consumer spending
Posted at 6:02 PM, Jun 15, 2021

Major stock indexes went down slightly Tuesday after retail sales fell 1.3% last month, according to new federal data, which is worse than what some analysts expected.

There were declines in furniture, electronics, and cars, while restaurants and bars ended the month of May with gains.

This may suggest a preference for experiences over goods as Americans are enjoying newfound freedoms after a year of lockdowns from the pandemic, though it is not universal.

For example, clothing sales shot up 3%, while electronic and appliance sales dropped 3.4%. Meanwhile, in a month with the unofficial kick-off to summer, building materials and garden equipment sales in May were down 5.9% compared to April.

Although May was down month-to-month, purchasing remains strong compared to last year when lockdowns, economic instability, and job insecurity had many Americans saving rather than spending. May's numbers were 28% higher than May 2020.

Jay Strubberg contributed to this report.