WASHINGTON ? Data released yesterday from the Commerce Department show a 0.5% drop in retail sales for May, the Associated Press reports.
It was the third consecutive month of sales declines, the first time that has happened since the fall of 2008 during the peak of the financial crisis.
The Associated Press attributed recent weakness to falling gasoline prices, but even after excluding sales at gas stations, retail spending fell 0.3% in June from May.
The drop reflects growing consumer anxiety about the economy. As a result, the slow economic expansion has not been able to shift the unemployment rate, which remained static at 8.2% in June, with only 75,000 jobs a month created in the April-June quarter.
The largest retail chains also reported a weaker month of spending June. Costco, Target, and Macy?s all said sales fell below expectations,
One bright spot for economists: Car sales surged last month, rising 22% from the same month a year ago.