Retail Sales Lose Steam in May

WASHINGTON — Retail sales, excluding autos, rose slightly in May, although consumer-spending momentum appeared to be slowing, according to an analysis of figures released Tuesday.

WASHINGTON — Retail sales, excluding autos, rose slightly in May, although consumer-spending momentum appeared to be slowing, according to an analysis of figures released Tuesday.

Retail sales excluding autos were up 0.3% during the month, compared with the preceding month’s results, according to a Commerce Department report. Including autos, sales fell a seasonally adjusted 0.2% over April and rose 7.8% unadjusted, year over year.

“Retailers are not surprised to see the momentum in consumer spending slowing, given the lackluster performance of employment and housing,” said Matthew Shay, president and chief executive officer, National Retail Federation. “Long-term economic growth will be reliant on Congress and the [Obama] administration’s ability to support policies that promote private sector growth.”

The report “supports the idea of the economy hitting a soft patch,” said NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz. “Though consumers are spending cautiously, we are not seeing them cut out new purchases completely, signaling there is a distinct appetite to spend if economic conditions let them.”