Thursday, June 12, 2008
That rebate money is starting to show up at retailers in a big way. The Department of Commerce reported retail sales rose 1.0 percent from April to May with a giant 2.4 percent increase in spending at building material and garden supply stores.There were also some large upward revisions to prior month's data - sales in March were revised from a gain of 0.2 percent to 0.5 percent and April sales improved from a decline of 0.2 percent to a gain of 0.4 percent.
From year-ago levels overall sales are now up 2.5 percent, a figure that is not adjusted for inflation and therefore, in real terms, is still negative.
Sales at building material and garden equipment stores have posted big month-to-month gains for two months now but remain down 3.2 percent from a year ago.
Of course, gasoline station sales led the way in May posting a 2.6 percent gain despite motorists logging fewer miles. From year ago levels, spending at gasoline stations is up 13.8 percent.
The Treasury Department began sending rebate payments in late-April and reportedly sent about $50 billion out in May.
As a point of reference, the 2.4 percent increase in spending at building material and garden equipment stores during May amounts to about $660 million and the 2.6 percent increase at gasoline stations comes out to roughly $1.1 billion.