Auto Sales

In May, U.S. retail sales declined thanks to slower employment gains and weaker wage gains affecting demand. This was the second consecutive month for the fall and a sign the economy is tapering.

According to Commerce Department numbers on Wednesday, May’s’ 0.2 percent decline was similar to April’s that had been previously disclosed as a gain. May’s fall met the median economists’ forecast, reported Bloomberg.

Retail sales sans autos declined 0.4 percent–its weakest numbers since May 2010; they had been forecast at unchanged.

Auto Sales Decline

But it was a darker picture for automobile sales: it experienced its greatest slump in two years.

In May, cars and light trucks sold at a 13.7 million annual rate, its weakest number in 2012 and a decline from April’s 14.4 million, according to Ward’s Automotive Group data. The year-over-year gains for General Motors Co. (NYSE:GM) at 11 percent and Chrysler Group’s 30 percent came in below analysts’ estimates.

Ford Motor Co. (NYSE:F) did exceeded estimates with a 13 percent rise in sales thanks to $100 per vehicle incentives.

The retail sales data, which isn’t adjusted for prices, did show less expensive gasoline receipts at service stations, according to Bloomberg, falling 2.2 percent in May–the greatest amount in 2012.

In May, a gallon of regular fuel at the pump cost$3.71 on average, down from the April 4 peak of $3.94, reported AAA.

On Tuesday, the price fell to $3.54.

Consumers are Shopping

May’s report showed spending rose 0.9 percent at clothing stores and at electronic chains, 0.8 percent.

May same-store sales rose more than analysts estimated for Target (NYSE:TGT) and Limited Brands Inc (NYSE:LTD).

But one company isn’t ready to celebrate. Home Depot Inc. (HD), the U.S.’s biggest home- improvement retailer, sees joblessness remaining high.

Back on June 6, Home Depot’s Chief Executive Officer Frank Blake said at an analyst conference, “We will still face higher-than-normal unemployment and underemployment rates, with the consequence that value will remain of major importance to our customers. Growth will be moderate.”