WASHINGTON (CN) – Retail sales declined unexpectedly in May, according to data released by the Census Bureau Friday. Consumer spending on retail goods such as clothes and home furnishings fell by 1.2 percent last month, the largest decrease in eight months.
Retail sales rose 0.6 percent in April.
Sales of building materials, garden equipment and supplies dealers took the biggest hit with a 9.3 percent decrease from April. Gas station sales fell 3.3 percent from the month before, largely due to lower gas prices. Gas station sales were more than 20 percent higher than May 2009.
Total consumer retail spending in May, $362.5 billion, jumped 6.9 percent from retail sales in May 2009.
Retail sales have grown 6.4 percent so far during the second quarter this year, the report said. During the first quarter, sales increased by 8.2 percent overall.
“Today’s data reflects what we know to be true: uncertainty remains and there is work left to do to ensure long-term economic stability,” Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said.
“Overall, consumer spending has increased modestly this quarter, and as Americans continue to cut down their debt, financial positions will improve,” Locke said. “That will help spur future economic growth and help put people back to work.”