Retail sales last month rose 0.5 percent from April to $455.6 billion, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. It was the second straight month of increases, after a 1.3 percent rise in April.
Economists said it was a good sign for the economy after a recent spate of bad news about the job market. The Labor Department recently said that job growth virtually ground to a halt in May, after an already lackluster showing in April.
But analysts caution that a few months of growth doesn’t necessarily translate into a sustained mood to splurge among shoppers. Many have been holding back for years, choosing to bank their savings from lower gas prices or use that money to pay debts. Department stores and mall-based retailers have struggled this year and their stock prices have plunges.
Clothing and accessory sales rose 0.8 percent. Sales for nonstore retailers, including e-commerce retailers such as Amazon.com, rose 1.3 percent. Gas sales, after recent price increases, rose 2.1 percent.
A few sectors fell. General merchandise stores, dragged down by the poor performance of department store chains, fell 0.3 percent. Building and garden shops were down 1.8 percent.
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