The month of May saw customer traffic continue to read below normal according to the results of the NRF Retail Executive Opinion Survey for May. Retailers cited weak sales and traffic as the primary reasons the Retail Sector Performance Index (RSPI) for May posted a marginal increase of 53.6, compared to 50.5 from the previous month. (The RSPI measures retail executives' evaluations of monthly sales, customer traffic, the average transaction per customer, employment, inventories, and a six-month-ahead sales outlook expectation. The RSPI is based on a scale of 0.0 – 100.0 with 50.0 equaling normal.)

Although sales (46.4) and traffic (39.3) for the month of May were below normal, the average transaction size per customer was very healthy with a reading of 64.3, 11.5 points higher than the previous month.

“While unseasonably cooler weather hurt customer traffic, retailers were clearly making every sale count as consumers were spending for mom on her special day,” said NRF president and CEO Tracy Mullin. “As the weather begins to warm up and gas prices continue to drop, we expect retailers to shake this summer swoon.”

Retail Operations continue to be a bright spot for the industry as the Operations Index remained above normal with a reading of 53.6 points, a slight decrease from April’s reading of 54.2.

With the weather becoming more seasonal and word that gas prices will continue to drop during the summer, retailers are looking at the future performance of the industry with increased optimism. The Demand Outlook, which is a six-month ahead sales outlook, rose 4.3 points in May from a month ago to 57.1.