Retail Sales Surged in May to Highest Level in 6 Months

(CN) – Retail sales surged in May to their highest level in  six months, as consumers spent more at home and garden stores, gas stations and restaurants, the Commerce Department said Thursday.

According to the government, retail sales led the gains, rising 0.8 percent last month. The department also revised sales figures for April, showing retail sales topped 0.4 percent in the first full month of spring.

The strong numbers are considered a sign of consumer confidence, which has bolstered by a strong job market and the tax cuts passed by Congress at the end of 2017.

FILE- In this June 6, 2018, photo, an advertisement for Saint Laurent is seen on a bus stop display as a pedestrian walks past a window display at the Lord & Taylor flagship store on Fifth Avenue in New York. On Thursday, June 14, the Commerce Department releases U.S. retail sales data for May. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

The positive report comes after what was generally seen as a sluggish first quarter. Economists suggest growth could reach 4 percent by the end of the end of the second quarter, after reaching only 2.2 percent in the first three months of the year.

Sales at home and garden stores jumped 2.4 percent, the most in eight months, and rose 2 percent at gas stations, which mostly reflects higher gas prices, the Commerce Department said.

Despite rising gas prices, Americans spent more at restaurants and bars, as well as at clothing stores, with sales rising 1.3 percent for both.

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