American consumers are getting their groove back as a record surge in May retail sales offered some hope of a quicker recovery from the pandemic-induced recession.
The 17.7% advance from the prior month, to $485 billion in receipts, was the biggest gain in data going back to 1992, following unprecedented declines in the prior two months, according to Commerce Department data out Tuesday.
Stocks jumped as the May advance was more than double the median projection, though optimism was tempered by tepid figures on industrial production along with fresh concern about an acceleration in Covid-19 cases.
Even so, the retail figures, emerging after a surprise 2.5 million increase in U.S. jobs during the month, suggest a faster-than-anticipated rebound from what’s likely to prove the steepest downturn since the Great Depression. After months of being stuck at home because of the coronavirus, Americans began to travel and visit store fronts as states relaxed lockdowns.
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