Data released by the U.S. Census Bureau today shows retail sales grew again in May and helped drive a still-expanding economy, National Retail Federation Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said.

“May’s retail sales give us a snapshot of a reasonably healthy consumer even though spending growth is fluctuating somewhat,” Kleinhenz said. “These numbers indicate that the economy continues to expand at a solid pace. Job gains have remained strong, generally supporting consumers’ ability and willingness to spend. Inflation pressure has fallen, especially for retail goods, but higher prices for services continue to weigh on the minds of households.”

The Census Bureau said overall retail sales in May were up 0.1% seasonally adjusted month over month and up 2.3% unadjusted year over year. That compared with a decrease of 0.2% month over month and an increase of 2.7% year over year in April.

May’s core retail sales as defined by NRF — based on the Census data but excluding automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants — were up 0.3% seasonally adjusted month over month and up 2.9% unadjusted year over year. Core retail sales were up 3.5% year-over-year for the first five months of the year, in line with NRF’s forecast for 2024 retail sales to grow between 2.5% and 3.5% over 2023.

Last week, the CNBC/NRF Retail Monitor, powered by Affinity Solutions, reported that core retail sales were up 1.2% seasonally adjusted month over month in May and up 2.88% year over year. That compared with an increase of 0.4% month over month and a decrease of 0.05% year over year in April. Unlike survey-based numbers collected by the Census Bureau, the Retail Monitor uses actual, anonymized credit and debit card purchase data compiled by Affinity Solutions and does not need to be revised monthly or annually.

As the leading authority and voice for the retail industry, NRF provides data on retail sales each month and also forecasts annual retail sales and spending for key periods such as the holiday season each year.