Same-Store Sales Rise 3.0% in May

Same-store sales came in surprisingly strong in May, jumping 3.0 percent. That was less than April's gain of 3.6 percent, but most observers had attributed April's strong numbers to the Easter shift and so it was viewed with caution. So May's surge is being seen as a more legitimate sign of strength.

Margaret Brennan has a good rundown of the results, including video, over at Retail Detail. However, one of the factors that's really helping retailers is the inflation in food and fuel costs. So, in some instances, consumers are spending more because they have to, not because they feel more confident or are increasing discretionary spending.

Overall, 37 chain stores are in the index this month. According to ICSC, "strength in

wholesale clubs (4.6 percent ex fuel), drug stores (3.2 percent) and discounts (3.0 percent)" was at the heart of the gain. Apparel (-6.5 percent) and furniture (-2.7 percent) stores were the weakest sectors. Luxury department stores (4.1 percent) also posted strong results.

This all meshes with what retailers and owners have been saying recently. Grocers, discounters and wholesale clubs are weathering the economic headwinds and benefiting from food and fuel inflation. Meanwhile, sections of the luxury market are hanging in. Other sectors are having a rougher go.

ICSC's report can be downloaded here (m'shp rqd.)

In less encouraging news, unemployment jumped by the largest amount in one month in 22 years and now sits a 5.5 percent. Further, a new report says that Americans' net worth dropped by $1.7 trillion during the first quarter.

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