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May retail sales miss expectations, signal slow recovery

While auto sales were strong, growing an impressive 1.4 percent, sales across grocery, department and clothing stores were weak

By Ananth Baliga
May retail sales miss expectations, signal slow recovery
Retail sales rose 0.3 percent last month, only half of the 0.6 percent gain that economists had projected. UPI/John Angelillo | License Photo

WASHINGTON, June 12 (UPI) -- Retail sales in the U.S. grew modestly in May, falling below analysts' expectation but still signaling a slow recovery in the economy.

Sales across retail outlets grew only 0.3 percent in May, according to the Commerce Department, below the 0.7 percent estimate made by economists polled by The Wall Street Journal. Excluding automotive sales, sales grew by 0.1 percent, whereas excluding autos and gasoline, there was no growth in sales over April.

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Sales in April were revised upwards to 0.5 percent over March sales, above the 0.1 percent initially reported by the Commerce Department.

The pace of sales has decreased since March when they grew by 1.5 percent due to a surge in retail sales following sluggish activity in the first two months of the year. On a monthly basis retail sales have still consistently grown since March.

"The 3-month annualized pace of headline sales is now up a staggering 9.2%, while the trend in core sales excluding food, gas and building materials have accelerated to a strong 5.0% annualized pace, reflecting strong momentum in underlying spending," said TD Securities economist Millan Mulraine, in a note to clients.

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Auto sales were particularity strong in May, rising 1.4% from April. But grocery, clothing and department stores saw declining sales.

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