High-end and online retailers enjoyed strong growth in May along with  Hoteliers and Restauranteurs, while sales at Apparel stores grew more slowly and housing-related sectors such as Furniture, Electronics and Appliances all saw sales decline compared to the same period in 2010, according to MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse, a macroeconomic report tracking national retail and services sales.

“Because the late Easter holiday boosted April’s year-over-year comparisons in some sectors, the May growth rates can look flattened by comparison, especially in Apparel, Luxury, and Groceries where the growth rates were only about half what they were in April,” noted Michael McNamara, vice president, research and analysis for MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse. “At the same time, Jewelry had its best year over year rate in 2011, and unlike the mixed results in April, every sub-category of Restaurants showed year-over-year growth in May.”

McNamara noted that while gasoline prices had declined somewhat since their peak, they were still cause for concern.


“We have been seeing a regular decline in gasoline, with barrels pumped declining by 1% to 2%,” he said. “The higher gas prices, though, do not seem to have had an impact on travel-related categories including Hotel or Restaurant sales or spending in Automotive-related sectors like tires, parts and service.”

Here are details of some specific sectors for May 2011:

  • Buoyant Travel Sector: With the travel season upon us, and, as noted above, gasoline prices continuing to stymie spending at the pump, it is interesting to note most sub-sectors of Travel have posted gains. Airlines showed only a modest 0.8% year-over-year growth rate, far below the 4-5% gains of March and February, while Lodging was up by 5.1% year-over-year. And Automotive stores (excluding dealers) posted sales year-over-year gains of 3.8% over May 2010, with repair sales up 3.8%, parts up 3.9%, and tires up 3.6%.
  • Apparel Up Nicely: Though noticeably smaller than Aprilfs gains, Total U.S. Apparel sales in May recorded a 5.9% year-over-year increase, its 18th consecutive monthly gain. While some of this monthfs performance can be attributed to the late Easter holiday boosting April sales, all of Apparelfs sub-sectors recorded year-
    over]year sales growth in May. Family Apparel posted modest year-over-year gains of 3.6%, its 16th positive out of the last 17 months. At 8.5%, Footwear weighed in with its 18th consecutive month of positive year-over-year growth, its May sales dollars being the second highest May dollar value in SpendingPulse history.
  • E-Commerce Storms Ahead: Up for the 7th consecutive month of double-digit year-over-year growth and 22nd straight month in positive territory, U.S. e-Commerce was up 15.9% year-over-year. Many eCommerce sectors posted impressive growth, with online Apparel sales gaining 19%, higher than the 17.9% growth rate observed in April.
  • Luxury Retailers Outpace the Pack: In its 8th consecutive month of year-over-year gains, the SpendingPulse Luxury Index (excluding Jewelry) was up 4.7%, posting more modest results than in the first quarter of the year. The SpendingPulse Luxury category measures luxury sales at high-end restaurants, food stores, department stores and general apparel categories.