WASHINGTON — Americans stepped up purchases at retail businesses in May, spending more on cars, home improvements, and sporting goods. The gain shows consumers remain resilient despite higher taxes and could drive faster growth later this year.
The Commerce Department said Thursday that retail sales rose 0.6 percent in May from April. That’s up from a 0.1 percent gain the previous month.
The April gain was led by a 1.8 percent jump in auto sales, the biggest increase in six months.
Excluding volatile autos, gas, and building supplies, core retail sales rose 0.3 percent. That’s slightly higher than the 0.2 percent April increase. Sales increased at hardware and general merchandise stores, but fell at furniture and appliance stores.