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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.

Advocates fret Roe v. Wade's 49th anniversary could be its last

Photo: Leigh Vogel/Getty Images for Women's March Inc

As Saturday marks the 49th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court's landmark decision that legalized abortion access in the U.S., advocates warn the ruling is "more at risk now than ever."

The big picture: The Supreme Court in December heard a challenge to a Mississippi 15-week abortion ban that could throw Roe's survival into question, or at least narrow its scope.

Updated 11 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds — Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies — Federal judge blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker