The latest US retail sales data shows US consumer spending rebounded in May, with retail sales up 1.2% on the month before, and clothing sales 1.5% higher.

Total retail sales were up 2.7% from the same month last year, while sales at clothing and accessories stores rose 3.6%, according to US Census Bureau estimates.

Sales at sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores were up 0.8% on April and 8.0% on May 2014, while sales at General merchandise stores also rose 0.8% month-on-month but slipped 0.4% on last year.

The figures provide "a good indication of total momentum in the consumer economy, of the amount Americans are able, and willing, to spend on retail," according to Håkon Helgesen, retail analyst at Conlumino, adding: "The message it conveys is that while people are spending a little more than they did last year, they are certainly not splurging.

"In some ways this reflects the underlying financial position of many households which, thanks to only modest increase in wages and salaries, is far from robust. It is also indicative of a more cautious attitude among many consumers, which holds them back from splashing out.

The lower price of gas has been a contributory factor in making US consumers more willing to spend, as they use the savings made from lower gas prices to fund purchases in other areas.

"In other words, the uplifts seen by many retail sectors are not solely the result of economic expansion and growth, they are the consequence of a shift in spending patterns," Helgesen notes. "In short, this means that as gas prices continue to rise, other parts of retail could begin to feel more of a squeeze."

Separate figures from the National Retail Federation (NRF) suggested that May retail sales, excluding autos, gas and restaurants, increased 0.8% from April and 1.9% on a year-over-year basis.

The results show retail sales are regaining momentum heading into the second half of the year, it said – with sales at clothing and clothing accessories stores up 1.5% month-to-month and up 2.3% year-over-year.

"With consumer confidence, employment and income improving, consumers were encouraged to open their wallets in May," said NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz, adding: "The improvement in retail sales is consistent with employment gains and the recent uptick in consumer credit."