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Economic Report: U.S. retail sales in May are weakest in 16 months

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Most U.S. retailers struggled to increase sales in May.

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — U.S. retailers in May reported the biggest decline in sales in 16 months, largely owing to lower gasoline prices and fewer Americans buying new cars and trucks.

Sales at retailers nationwide sank 0.3% last month, the biggest drop since January 2016, the government reported Wednesday. The May sales report was generally weak across the board.

Economists polled by MarketWatch had forecast flat sales in May.

The reversal last month unwound much of the strength in April when sales jumped 0.4%. April sales benefited from a late Easter holiday and the arrival of tax refunds for millions of American workers.

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