Retail sales shattered already-lofty expectations for May as consumers freed from the coronavirus-induced lockdowns began shopping again.
The 17.7% headline gain including food sales easily topped the record 6.7% from October 2001 — a month after the 9/11 terrorist attacks — and beat the 8% estimate from economists surveyed by Dow Jones.
Retail sales alone powered 16.8% higher from a month earlier, more than double the estimate of 8% from Dow Jones and reversing a 16.4% plunge from the previous month. Clothing and accessories stores reported the biggest percentage gain at 188% while sporting goods, hobby, musical instruments and book stores rose 88.2%.
The government numbers, released…