US retail sales fell for a second consecutive month in May, the government reported Wednesday, a worrying sign that consumers are cutting back spending that fuels most of the economy.
Retail sales fell 0.2 percent in May, following a revised 0.2 percent decline in April, the Commerce Department said.
The department’s initial April estimate was a 0.1 percent increase in retail and food services sales.
The May decline matched expectations as the world’s largest economy grapples with slowing growth, high unemployment and uncertainty from Europe, where the eurozone’s mounting debt crisis is weighing on US businesses.
Excluding auto sales, retail sales dropped a sharper 0.4 percent in May and the department revised the April gain of 0.1 percent to a 0.3 percent decline.
The weak numbers add to other signs pointing to feeble growth in the second quarter, after the economy grew just 1.9 percent in the first three months of the year. Consumer spending accounts for about 70 percent of the nation’s economic activity.
[A woman passes a shopping mural. AFP Photo/Justin Sullivan]