<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="The May retail sales report peeled back the curtain on the health of the U.S. consumer amid one of the worst global pandemics in modern history. Consumer spending rebounded in May following&nbsp;April’s record plunge. Online sales maintained their strength and spending in the beaten down core components rebounded sharply during the month.” data-reactid=”16″>The May retail sales report peeled back the curtain on the health of the U.S. consumer amid one of the worst global pandemics in modern history. Consumer spending rebounded in May following April’s record plunge. Online sales maintained their strength and spending in the beaten down core components rebounded sharply during the month.

Here were the main numbers compared to Bloomberg estimates:

  • Headline retail sales: +17.7% vs. +8.4% expected, -14.7% in April

  • Retail sales, excluding auto and gas: +12.4% vs. +5.1%, -14.4% in April

COSTA MESA, CA - JUNE 11: Mall employee Glenby Ramirez, right, wipes down the escalator handrail while shopper pass by as South Coast Plaza reopens, requiring customers maintain a social distance and wear face masks at South Coast Plaza Thursday, June 11, 2020 in Costa Mesa, CA. Although not all stores in the upscale shopping center will resume operations, more than 110 merchants - including Apple, Macy's and Nordstrom - are opening their doors after being closed for three months amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)COSTA MESA, CA - JUNE 11: Mall employee Glenby Ramirez, right, wipes down the escalator handrail while shopper pass by as South Coast Plaza reopens, requiring customers maintain a social distance and wear face masks at South Coast Plaza Thursday, June 11, 2020 in Costa Mesa, CA. Although not all stores in the upscale shopping center will resume operations, more than 110 merchants - including Apple, Macy's and Nordstrom - are opening their doors after being closed for three months amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
COSTA MESA, CA – JUNE 11: Mall employee Glenby Ramirez, right, wipes down the escalator handrail while shopper pass by as South Coast Plaza reopens, requiring customers maintain a social distance and wear face masks at South Coast Plaza Thursday, June 11, 2020 in Costa Mesa, CA. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Within core components, consumer spending online rose 9% and 1.3% at grocery stores in May. Sales at department stores jumped 36.9%, furniture stores saw a 89.7% increase in spending, sporting goods sales rose 88.2%, sales at electronics stores surged 50.5% and spending at clothing retailers skyrocketed 188%.

Meanwhile non-core components also saw a big bounce in activity in May. Auto and auto parts sales rose 44.1% and gas sales jumped 12.8%. Sales from food services was up 29.1% and spending on building materials increased 10.9%.

“As many states continued to ease restrictions on resident mobility and nonessential business activity, various high-frequency estimates of consumer spending data indicated solid increases in major discretionary categories in May following historical declines in April,” Nomura economist Lewis Alexander said in a note June 12.

Alexander pointed out that, consistent with recent data from WardsAutos, sales at auto and auto parts dealerships likely rebounded double digits. However, spending at restaurants is expected to have rebounded only modestly, according to Alexander.

“Although data from OpenTable, an online restaurant booking service, indicated some improvement in seated diner volume, sales at restaurants were likely weaker than the seasonal ramp-up in sales during late spring, weighing on the seasonally adjusted estimate.”

Credit Suisse economist James Sweeney argued that while retail sales in May will have rebounded from April’s sharp declines, the recovery will be gradual.

“Consumer spending should start to recover in May as the country emerges from nationwide lockdown. However, the recovery will only be gradual as reopening happens in phases and consumer behavior shifts. With confidence still depressed and the labor market impaired, consumption is likely to take years to recover despite recent fiscal relief helping to support household income,” Sweeney wrote in a note to clients June 11.

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<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Heidi Chung is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter:&nbsp;@heidi_chung.” data-reactid=”40″>Heidi Chung is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @heidi_chung.

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