WASHINGTON, USA – United States retail sales posted a surprise spike of 17.7% in May, the Commerce Department said Tuesday, June 16, in a sign the economy may be recovering from coronavirus shutdowns.
The $485.5 billion in sales was nearly double what analysts had forecast and more than reversed the 14.7% plunge in April when businesses nationwide closed their doors to stop the virus from spreading.
President Donald Trump, who has downplayed risks of the virus and instead focused on reviving the economy as he faces a tough reelection battle in November, cheered the data.
“Wow! May retail sales show biggest one-month increase of ALL TIME, up 17.7%. Far bigger than projected. Looks like a BIG DAY FOR THE STOCK MARKET, AND JOBS!” he tweeted.
The report added to the recent unexpectedly good economic news, after the release earlier this month of a jobs report showing the economy adding 2.5 million positions in May and the unemployment rate ticking down to a still-high 13.3%.
However, signs of the devastation wrought by the pandemic were still apparent in the data, with sales in the period between March, when the business disruptions started, and May down 10.5% compared to the same months in 2019.
With April seeing such a massive plunge, the May data was full of equally large numbers, such as the 188% month-on-month sales growth for clothing and clothing accessories stores, and 89.7% increase for furniture and home furnishing stores.
Those sectors were among the worst-affected by the lockdowns. Businesses that have been relatively resilient, like nonstore retailers including e-commerce outlets, saw more modest growth of 9%.
And gas stations, where sales had plunged in April amid an oil supply glut that drove prices lower, rose 12.8% in May. – Rappler.com