Stimulus checks helped send retail sales up 1% in May, the Commerce Department said yesterday (Thursday), bolstering the dollar and lifted the mood on Wall Street. But the effects may not last, as unemployment continues to rise and crude oil supplies tighten. Record high gasoline prices padded the report, but purchases still increased in every other sector. Gasoline sales jumped 2.6% last month and have gained 13.8% in the past year. Excluding gasoline, sales still climbed 0.8%.
Many economists were impressed by the figures as retail sales rang up $385.4 billion for the month. On the other hand, most attributed the growth to the $50 million in economic stimulus payments the U.S. government sent out in May, and analysts are divided on whether their positive effect will continue.
“The full impacts of the rebate checks are still to come as people are still receiving them,” Naroff said. “That holds out hope that consumption will continue to expand through the summer.”