The strength of the consumer recovery had another setback today, as the latest retail sales report showed a decline of 1.2% in May. Department stores, general merchandise, auto sales and gasoline were all below estimates, and analysts pondered over the possible causes, which included the seasonal effect of cooler weather or the lack of growth in employment. Interestingly, online retail sales grew by nearly 16%. Maybe in our focus on the recession we're missing the big picture, which is the structural change in our shopping habits caused by innovations such as iphone shopping apps and the like.
Locally, the news is better. Our monthly update shows that Marin retail sales are higher than they were this time last year. The 1% sales tax distributed to Marin's cities in May 2010 was $2.36m, or 12% above the May 2009 figure. This tax distribution relates to sales that occurred in stores in February - March this year.