Retail Sales Up for May 2019

By at 15 June, 2019, 8:54 am

by Raymond J. Keating-

May retail and food services sales were up by 0.5 percent compared to April, with the April-vs.-March change revised from -0.2 percent to +0.3 percent, according to the latest estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau.

With the May data and revisions, the picture on retail sales through the first five months of 2019 has brightened. Sales growth now is estimated to have been positive in four of the first five months – including a big bounce in March – coming after a no-growth November and a decline in December (see following chart).

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, FRED

This would be a welcome shift for the overall economy, as growth in real personal consumption expenditures in the GDP data was sluggish in the first quarter (1.3 percent), and had slowed for two straight quarters.

Considering that the labor market have been strong, the deceleration in consumption over the past two quarters was a bit surprising.

Hopefully, this latest retail sales report points to improvements that will translate into the GDP growth data in the second quarter.


Raymond J. Keating is chief economist for the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council.


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