U.S. retail sales rose more than expected in May as Americans bought cars, clothes, and shopped online. Bobbi Rebell reports.
Cars, clothes, and restaurant dinners got consumers to open their wallets in May. The result - better-than-expected U.S. retail sales. Retail sales rose half a percent last month, according to the Commerce Department, after surging by 1.3 percent in April. Sales were 2.5 percent higher than a year ago. James Ingram is CEO of Splashlight, a technology company that analyzes retail sales, and he says that it's all thanks to online sales. (SOUNDBITE) JAMES INGRAM, CEO, SPLASHLIGHT, (ENGLISH) SAYING: "One of every ten dollars are spent online last year, which is up 15 percent from 2014, if you're positioned to reach the consumer online, to be convenient and priced competitively, you're going to outpace these retailers that are burdened with stores." Excluding volatile factors like cars, gas, building materials and food services, core retail sales rose a solid 0.4 percent last month after an upwardly revised 1.0 percent increase in April. But Lakshman Achuthan, chief operations officer and founder at ECRI, says just because it is better-than expected, doesn't mean it is good enough. (SOUNDBITE) LAKSHMAN ACHUTHAN, CHIEF OPERATIONS OFFICER, CO-FOUNDER, ECRI, (ENGLISH) SAYING: "If we step back, and look at the big picture year-over-year growth in retail sales is at 2.5 percent, so it's down from five percent that was a year and half ago, at the end of 2014. So, I think, the slowdown idea the Fed is wrestling with is completely supported by this latest retail sales data, even though it's a little better than expected." The retail sales data comes in just as Fed policy makers are meeting in Washington.