U.S. retail sales declined in April and May, pulled down by a sharp drop in gas prices. But even after excluding volatile gas sales, consumers increased their spending only modestly.
The Commerce Department says retail sales dipped 0.2 percent in May. That followed a revised 0.2 percent decline April. The back-to-back declines were the first in two years.
The weakness reflected a 2.2 percent plunge in gasoline station sales. Still, excluding that category, retail spending rose just 0.1 percent in May. And it dropped 0.1 percent in April.
The flat spending suggests slow job growth and paltry wage increases may be leading consumers to pull back on spending.
Still, consumers spent more in May on big purchases - cars, furniture and appliances were among the categories to show increases.