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U.S. Retail Sales Rebound Sharply In May As Stores Reopen

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After reporting a record drop in U.S. retail sales in the previous month, the Commerce Department released a report on Tuesday showing retail sales rebounded by much more than anticipated in the month of May as stores began to reopen following the coronavirus lockdown.

The Commerce Department said retail sales skyrocketed by 17.7 percent in May after plunging by a revised 14.7 percent in April.

Economists had expected retail sales to spike by 8.0 percent compared to the 16.4 percent nosedive originally reported for the previous month.

The record increase in retail sales was partly due to a substantial rebound in sales by motor vehicle and parts dealers, which soared by 44.1 percent in May after tumbling by 12.3 percent in April.

Excluding the rebound in auto sales, however, retail sales still surged up by 12.4 percent in May after plummeting by 15.2 percent in April. Ex-auto sales were expected to jump by 5.5 percent.

Sales by clothing and accessories stores showed a particularly sharp increase, catapulting by 188.0 percent in May following a 63.4 percent nosedive in the previous month.

The report also showed significant increases in sales by furniture and home furnishing stores, sporting goods, hobby, musical instrument and book stores, and electronics and appliance stores.

Core retail sales, which exclude automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services, also surged up by 11.0 percent in May after plunging by 12.4 percent in April.

"The strength of retail sales is testimony to the power of reopening the economy, even partially," said Chris Low, Chief Economist at FHN Financial. "It is also a testimony to how big the decline in activity was in the three months through April."

He added, "There's no question you'll be hearing a lot of 'V-shaped' commentary if you tune into CNBC today, but even after the spectacular rise in May, consumer spending still has a long way to go before it recovers."

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