WASHINGTON: American consumers spent freely on autos and electronics last month, giving the retail sector a bump even as worries mount that the US economy is slowing, government data showed Friday.
News of the upswing in spending came as the picture for April also changed for the better, suggesting retail sales were likely to support GDP growth in the second quarter, reports AFP.Sales rose 0.5 percent compared to April to $519 billion, according to the Commerce Department’s latest estimate, putting them up 3.2 percent above May of last year.
The result was below forecasts but appeared smaller after April was revised upwards from a decline to a modest 0.3 percent increase.
Sales of autos and parts rose a healthy 0.7 percent, reversing a sharp drop in April.
Excluding sales of motor vehicles and parts, retail sales also rose 0.5 percent.
Electronics stores sprang to life, posting a 1.1 percent gain that nevertheless left them 2.4 percent below their level of May last year, when the US economic engine raced under the effects of fiscal stimulus and 2017’s tax cuts.