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Consumer spending declines in May amid high inflation

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Posted at 7:56 AM, Jun 15, 2022

Retail and food spending declined .3% in May compared to April in the U.S., according to figures released Wednesday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

When spending at gas stations is excluded, overall spending dropped .7% nationwide last month.

A 3.5% drop in car and parts sales in May led to the decline. There was also a .9% drop in furniture spending and a 1.3% decrease in electronic spending.

In the last year, overall consumer spending has been up 8.1%, driven by high gas prices. When excluding spending at gas stations, overall spending has increased by 5.3%.

After seeing an initial drop at the onset of the pandemic, consumer spending dramatically increased, especially in early 2021. Consumer spending cooled last summer but rose again in late 2021 and early 2022.

One possible impact on consumer spending is how inflation is outpacing wage growth. According to federal data, hourly wages are up just 5.2% in the last year, compared to an 8.6% increase in inflation over the previous year.