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US retail spending accelerates in May
[WASHINGTON] US retail spending surged in May, driven by big gains in sales at gasoline stations and of building materials, and a solid increase in auto sales, the Commerce Department reported Thursday.
The latest increase, combined with sales in April that were stronger than initially reported, could help boost economic growth in the second quarter.
Retail and food services sales jumped 0.8 per cent last month, the strongest since November and double the rate economists were expecting.
At US$502 billion spending was nearly six per cent higher than May 2017, according to the report.
Sales at gasoline stations jumped two per cent, double the increase in the prior month, amid rising fuel costs, which also have had an impact on recent inflation reports.
Vehicle and auto parts sales accelerated, rising 0.5 per cent in the month, while total retail sales excluding autos jumped 0.9 per cent, also far higher than economists expected.
While traditional retail stores are a dwindling part of the US economy, the data remain a key indicator of economic health of consumers.
Sales at building material and garden stores jumped 2.4 per cent, while department stores posted a 1.5 per cent increase, and clothing rose 1.3 per cent.
Food services outlets also saw a 1.3 per cent rise.
But furniture declined 2.4 per cent and sporting goods stores fell 1.1 per cent.
Non-store retailers slowed in the month, edging up just 0.1 per cent but are more than nine per cent higher than the same month of last year.