U.S. Retail Sales See Biggest Decline in 16 Months
In May, U.S. retailers saw the biggest decline in sales over the past 16 months. Sales at retailers nationwide dropped 0.3 percent — not good when compared to the jump of 0.4 percent in April 2017. Most of May’s weakness stemmed from a 2.4 percent drop in sales at gasoline retailers and a 0.2 percent slip at auto dealers. If autos and gas are set aside, retail sales were unchanged in May, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. However, sales at traditional department stores fell sharply — they declined 1 percent, the worst performance in nearly a year.
Total Retail’s Take: The bright spot in the retail economy continues to be e-commerce. Internet sales jumped 0.8 percent in May, often at the expense of department stores. Sears, for example, recently laid off corporate workers and began planning for hundreds of store closures. It has been joined by other department stores, including J.C. Penney and Macy's, in announcing disappointing sales and store closures.