May retail sales increased 5.9% over May 2003, according to the U.S. Commerce Department. Although that’s an increase of only 0.8% over April’s levels, overall retail sales are up 10% for the first quarter of 2004, and have since risen another 7.5% for the second quarter thus far.
“With recent good news regarding job creation,” said National Retail Federation chief economist Rosalind Wells in a statement, “all the pieces have fallen into place.”
Looking at specific categories, sales for clothing and accessories stores rose 0.9% over April and 3.4% over May 2003. General merchandise stores sales increased 1.3% over April and by 7.8% over last May. Health and personal care stores had a 0.9% gain over April and a 6.0% increase over last May. Electronics and appliances stores’ sales were up 0.1% over April and 8.2% over May of last year.