US retail sales slide to biggest drop in 16 months

US retail sales slide 0.3 percent biggest drop in 16 months

US retail sales slide 0.3 percent biggest drop in 16 months

Advance estimates of US retail and food services sales for May 2017 were $473.8 billion, according to the US Commerce Department.

One bright spot was a 0.8% jump in sales in the fast-growing internet segment.

Excluding auto sales, retail sales still fell by 0.3 percent in May following the 0.4 percent growth seen in April.

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Economists said that they expected consumer spending to pick up in spring and summer. Auto sales were also weak, falling by 0.2% m/m.

May's surprise sluggishness in consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of the USA economy, could worry Federal Reserve officials who have previously attributed the slowdown in domestic demand to transitory factors.

Later this afternoon the Fed will likely announce another 25 basis point increase in the fed funds rate, bringing the rate to a range of 1%-1.25%. Grocery stores, as well as health and personal care stores, both eked out 0.1 percent gains for the month, though perhaps because of price increases. Sales at general merchandise stores decreased 0.3% from April but increased 1.3% from May of past year.

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Sales at traditional department stores, on the other hand, fell sharply.

USA retailers in May reported the biggest decline in sales in 16 months, largely owing to lower gasoline prices and fewer Americans buying new cars and trucks.

Control group sales were unchanged on the month, although the April increase was revised higher to 0.6% from 0.2% previously. By category, the sharpest drop came in electronics (-2.8%), following two months of decent gains.

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Receipts at restaurants and bars dipped 0.1%, while sales at sporting goods and hobby stores fell 0.6%.

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