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US retail sales fall in May

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NEW YORK – Americans unexpectedly reduced their purchases in May compared to the previous month, a sign of how rising inflation in staples like gasoline is prompting them to be more cautious about discretionary spending.

Retail sales fell 0.3% last month compared with a 0.7% rise in April, the Commerce Department reported on Wednesday.

A sharp decline in auto sales, largely due to rising prices and inventory shortages, depressed the overall sales figure. Excluding cars, sales rose 0.5% last month, but excluding gas station sales, retail sales fell 0.7%, evidence that sector price increases take up a growing share of spending. consumers generally.

The report highlighted how consumers have stopped buying some of the products that were in high demand during the pandemic. Sales at furniture, home goods and electronics stores fell 1%. Building, gardening and general merchandise stores are also showing signs of slowing sales.

Online sales fell 1%, as customers return to stores. Meanwhile, food sales in stores increased 1.2% due to higher prices, not so much due to consumption. The influx to restaurants increased 0.7%.

The report released Wednesday covers about a third of overall consumer spending, and does not include services such as hairdressers, hotels and airfare.

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