May picked up the pace a bit in the retail sector, with monthly sales improving 0.3% for the month after a fairly stagnant winter season. However, the results still fell below economists' expectations.
The U.S. Census Bureau announced that advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales were $437.6 billion in May, a 4.3% improvement over 2013.
On their own, retail sales fared slightly better, up 0.4% for the month. The progress was largely carried by auto and other motor vehicle dealers (up 11.1% year-over-year), as well as nonstore retailers (up 7.4% since last year).
Building material & garden equipment & supplies dealers (NAICS category 444) were actually in second place for month-over-month improvement in May. The category was up 1.1%, below motor vehicles but above nonstore retailers. The 444 companies were up 4.6% for the year.
Department stores saw the biggest decrease in May, down 1.4%.