Sales at clothing and clothing accessory stores increased 8.2% year-over-year

Sales at clothing and clothing accessory stores increased 8.2% year-over-year

A rise in sales at US clothing retailers in May has helped US retail sales build on improvement seen in April, new figures show.

May retail sales increased 0.7% seasonally adjusted over April and 5.6% year-over-year as a growing economy prompted consumers to continue to spend, according to figures from the National Retail Federation (NRF).

The May numbers, which exclude automobiles, gasoline stations, and restaurants, include a 9.1% rise year-over-year in online and other non-store sales, which were up 0.1% on April seasonally adjusted.

The numbers are based on data from the US Census Bureau, which said overall May sales – including automobiles, gasoline and restaurants – were up 0.8% seasonally adjusted from from April and up 5.9% year-over-year.

Sales at clothing and clothing accessory stores increased 8.2% year-over-year and up 1.3% from April seasonally adjusted, while sporting goods stores showed the only year-over-year decrease, down 0.5%, and down 1.1% from April seasonally adjusted.

The May results build on improvement seen in April, which was up 0.5% monthly and 2.8% year-over-year. The three-month moving average was up 4.6% over the same period a year ago, topping NRF's forecast that 2018 retail sales will grow between 3.8% and 4.4% over 2017.

"The economy is looking strong and households have a solid financial foundation on which to base their spending," says NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz, noting increased take-home pay thanks in part to tax cuts, unemployment at a long-time low and good availability of consumer credit.

"We have seen ongoing momentum over the last several months and believe sales growth should remain healthy and consistent with our 2018 outlook," he adds. "Nonetheless, inflation and rising oil prices are complicating the picture. And new tariffs or a trade war would certainly be negatives that would increase prices and reduce both consumer purchasing power and consumer confidence."