Figures: Sales at retail stores increased in May, but the increase was a double-edged sword . Americans are spending more because of a strong economy, but rising inflation also means that they have to pay more for gas and other basic foods.
Retail sales increased 0.8% last month, double the MarketWatch forecast. Sales growth in April and March was also revised upwards, partly reflecting changes in the way the government calculates numbers.
Retail sales have risen a solid 5.9% in the last 12 months, the government said Thursday. Sales are increasing at an annual rate of more than 5%, even if gas is excluded.
What happened: Sales at gas stations increased sharply in May, reflecting higher pump prices. The home centers also saw a large increase in sales, as is often the case in the spring.
Restaurants and clothing stores published strong sales, and to some surprise, traditional department stores easily outboxed their Internet rivals.
Automobile sales also rose 0.5%, even the industry reported lower sales figures. The automotive sector generates approximately one fifth of all retail spending.
Sales fell in stores that sell sporting goods, books, music and home furnishings.
Retail sales in April, meanwhile, rose to show a gain of 0.4% from an initial reading of 0.2%. Sales in March grew by 0.7% instead of remaining unchanged.
Overview: Fiscal cuts, a growing economy and the best job market in decades are giving Americans the means to spend more.
However, the near future seems a little more uncertain.
Higher gas prices and rising inflation are affecting household finances. The Federal Reserve is also raising interest rates, making it more expensive to buy a house, buy a new car or borrow.
Even so, most economists predict that the current expansion of the United States that just turned nine years break the modern record. It would be the longest expansion in history if it lasts another year .
What they say: "US households revert to their forms of free spending, with the strength of May retail sales figures implying that the growth of real consumption in the second quarter (and the GDP growth for that matter) will now be more than 4% annualized.With the benefit of tax cuts, strong employment growth and a slow acceleration of wage growth per hour, the growth of consumption should stay strong in the second half of this year, "said Paul Ashworth, chief US economist at Capital Economics.
Market reaction: Dow Jones industrial average
and the S & P 500
was set to open slightly higher in Thursday's trading. The 10-year Treasury yield
decreased slightly to 2.95%.