A sign on the reopened boardwalk in Wildwood, N.J. Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

U.S. retail sales rose 17.7% in May, rebounding from a revised 14.7% drop in April, the Commerce Department said on Tuesday.

Why it matters: The result — the biggest monthly jump in consumer spending ever — is a big upside surprise, much better than the 8% jump that economists expected. It's another sign, alongside May's hugely better-than-expected jobs report, that the worst could be over for the economic slump caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

By the numbers: Retail sales are still down 6.1% from the prior year. Most categories bounced back after taking blows in March and April, when businesses were forced to close. Still, for certain businesses, spending remains much lower than it was this time last year.

  • For example ... Sales at clothing stores jumped 188% from April, but are down over 63% from the same time last year.
  • But: Nonstore retailers — the category that's a proxy for e-commerce — saw sales rise 9% in May and sales in that category are up 31% from last year.
  • And spending at food & beverage stores (which includes grocery stores) rose 2% last month and is up 14.5% year-over-year.

Go deeper

CEO confidence rises for the first time in over 2 years

Data: Business Roundtable; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

A closely-watched CEO economic confidence index rose for the first time after declining for nine straight quarters, according to a survey of 150 chief executives of the biggest U.S. companies by trade group Business Roundtable.

Why it matters: The index, which still remains at a decade low, reflects corporate America's expectations for sales, hiring and spending — which plummeted amid uncertainty when the pandemic hit.

Updated 28 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Politics: Obama: Trump is "jealous of COVID's media coverage" Axios-Ipsos poll: Federal response has only gotten worse.
  2. Health: Hospitals face a crush — 13 states set single-day case records last week.
  3. Business: Winter threat spurs new surge of startup activity.
  4. Media: Pandemic causes TV providers to lose the most subscribers ever.
  5. States: Nearly two dozen Minnesota cases traced to three Trump campaign events.
  6. World: Putin mandates face masks.

Louisiana braces for 3rd hurricane in 2 months as Tropical Storm Zeta nears

Municipality workers clean the streets of garbage in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, on Tuesday that was left by Zeta, which struck the Yucatan Peninsula as a Category 1 Hurricane a day earlier — causing no major damage to infrastructure. Photo: Medios y Media/Getty Images

Tropical Storm Zeta is expected to strengthen back into a hurricane and bring dangerous storm surge conditions to parts of the northern Gulf Coast on Wednesday, per the National Hurricane Center.

The state of play: Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) requested a pre-landfall Federal Declaration of Emergency in a letter to President Trump on Tuesday, ahead of the storm's expected arrival south of New Orleans.