Sales at U.S. retailers unexpectedly dropped in May, signaling consumers boosted savings as employment slowed and stocks fell.Building materials (which fell back to earth following a spike in April to take advantage of the end of the tax credit) and a 20% decline in the price of oil led the fall in gasoline (these figures are nominal). Subtracting those outliers we still have a decline, which shows weakness. Just not as weak as early reports would indicate.
Purchases decreased 1.2 percent, the biggest drop since September 2009, following a 0.6 percent April gain that was larger than previously estimated, Commerce Department figures showed today in Washington. Demand plunged at building-material stores, reflecting the end of a government appliance rebate, and sales fell at auto dealers, in contrast to industry figures which showed a gain.