Topping off a quarter of strong consumption, Americans spent more at retailers in June than the prior month. The Commerce Department said on Monday (July 16) that retail sales increased by 0.5 percent in June from May, The Wall Street Journal reported.
During the month, consumer spending at personal care and health stores jumped in June by the highest monthly rate in over 14 years. In addition, gas prices and vehicle sales also bolstered the increase. At the same time, however, sales at department stores dropped by 1.8 percent as consumers continue to move their spending to eCommerce.
Overall, consumer spending has increased over the second quarter following slow spending in the winter. During that quarter, retail sales increased 1.9 percent from the first three months of the year. Retail spending was also up 5.9 percent from the second quarter of last year.
The news comes as consumer confidence seemed to have returned in a big way in May, as retail sales soared to their highest level since November 2017, according to news from WSJ. All in, sales were up .8 percent from a month earlier to $502 billion, per Department of Commerce figures.
Areas that were marked as increases included car sales, building supplies, sporting goods, healthcare and clothing. Excluding auto sales, which have a tendency to bounce up and down frequently month to month, retail spending was up .9 percent. That is better news than economists were expecting for May — a .4 percent increase in overall sales and a .5 percent increase in retail sales, excluding auto, had been the prediction.
Encouraging Americans’ enthusiasm to spend, according to the new report, is low unemployment, rising wages and additional liquid capital due to the tax cuts of late 2017. The positive cycle is pulling along merchant sales and stronger economic growth. Economists were predicting Q2 will show 4 percent growth in U.S. economic output, the strongest growth period in several years.