Retail Commodity Survey, May 2022
Retail sales reached $67.8 billion in May, an increase of 15.3% compared with the same month in 2021. Higher sales were reported in 17 of the 18 commodity classes.
The advance estimate provided by the Monthly Retail Trade Survey suggests that unadjusted total retail sales increased by 10.7% in June. Because of its preliminary nature, this figure will be revised.
Fuel sales continue to rise
In May, the largest contributor to the increase in dollar terms came from higher sales of automotive and household fuels (+69.8%). With continued elevated prices seen at the pump, sales of automotive fuels posted their 15th consecutive monthly year-over-year increase, rising 70.0% compared with May 2021.
Sales of motor vehicles rose 5.3% in May, the first year-over-year increase in three months. Leading the gains were sales of used motor vehicles (+8.0%), led by used minivans, sport utility vehicles and light trucks (+12.0%). Sales of new motor vehicles increased 3.2%.
Non-discretionary classes post strong gains
Sales of clothing rose 88.9%, and this commodity class was the second-highest contributor to the monthly gain. Sales increases were recorded in every subclass, the largest of which were for women's clothing (+81.4%) and men's clothing (+120.6%). Sales of footwear continued to increase in May 2022, rising 77.1% from a year earlier.
Sales of home furniture, furnishings, housewares, appliances and electronics increased 17.8%, led by outdoor home furniture (+47.7%) as the warm weather approached. Following close behind were sales of housewares (+14.6%), home furnishings (+29.3%), and indoor home furniture (+16.7%).
Food sales rising
Food sales increased year over year for a third consecutive month in May (+1.4%), led by packaged food dry goods (+4.5%). Meanwhile, sales of frozen food increased by 3.2%, while those of fresh food decreased by 0.4%.
Note to readers
The Retail Commodity Survey collects national-level retail sales data, by commodity, from the same businesses surveyed in the Monthly Retail Trade Survey. No data have been seasonally adjusted. All percentage changes are year over year.
Starting with the May 2022 release of February data, estimates for the Monthly Retail Trade Survey are being calculated using a new sample. The sample is periodically refreshed to reflect the evolution of the target population since the last sample was drawn. The change is reflected on the Business Register through births, deaths and reclassifications to the survey population. The sample design has also been modified to be more efficient and to allow an increased use of administrative data sources.
Regular annual revisions for 2021 and 2020 and typical historical revisions were also included in the new data series.
The data have been revised using historical linkage factors designed to preserve the continuity of the time series. This linkage method leads to larger revisions for more recent periods.
New retail commodity data for e-commerce now available
E-commerce figures from brick-and-mortar retailers are included with the retailer's commodity sales. If the online operations of a brick-and-mortar retailer are separately managed, they are classified under NAICS code 45411 (electronic shopping and mail-order houses). Businesses commonly referred to as pure-play Internet retailers are also classified under NAICS code 45411. Total retail sales figures do not include sales from retailers classified under NAICS code 45411.
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