New York -- U.S. retail sales declined in April and May, pulled down by a sharp 2.2% drop in gas stations sales in both months, the Commerce Department said Wednesday.
But excluding volatile gas station sales, retail sales increased only modestly in May and dipped in April.
Total retail sales fell in April to $404.6 billion, slightly below March's record level of $406.2 billion and 21.6% higher than the recession low hit in March 2009.
Excluding gas station sales, retail spending rose just 0.1% in May. And retail sales dropped 0.1% in April after a revision by the government.
Americans did spend more in May on big purchases. Sales of cars, furniture and appliances all increased.
Other findings from the May retail sales figures include:
- Clothing and clothing accessories stores' sales increased 0.9%, seasonally adjusted month-to-month and increased 7.3% unadjusted year-over-year;
- Electronics and appliance stores' sales increased 0.8% seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and 1.2% unadjusted year over-year;
- Furniture and home furnishing stores' sales increased 0.4%m seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and 11.4% unadjusted year-over-year;
- Health and personal care stores' sales decreased 0.1% seasonally-adjusted month-to-month but increased 3.1% unadjusted year-over-year; and
- Sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores' sales decreased 0.1% seasonally-adjusted month-to-month but increased 9.1% unadjusted year-over-year.