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Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

U.S. retail sales rose 0.6% in June from May, the Commerce Department reported Friday morning, beating expectations of a 0.4% decline.

Why it matters: Retail’s overall recovery has been uneven, driven in part by stimulus checks, reopening patterns and seasonal demand changes.

  • The same can be said for the underlying sales categories, where clothing and personal care products continued to experience sales growth, while furnishings and building materials continued to trend down.

By the numbers: The pace of retail sales excluding autos last month rose 1.3%, also faster than expectations of a 0.4% improvement, and it marks a notable pickup from May, which showed sales declining 0.9%. 

  • The latest metrics come on the heels of new inflation figures released earlier this week that showed consumer prices rising faster than expected last month, due mostly to car prices.

Categories with some of the fastest growth last month include clothing store sales (up 2.6%) and restaurants and bars (up 2.3%).

  • Home furnishing store sales continued to decline (down 3.6%), while cars and car parts dropped (down 2%), as supply chain issues continue to plague the sectors.

What they're saying: The gains in clothing and electronics sales may reflect that stimulus checks and the recent pace of inflation are pushing up sales, Capital Economics’ Paul Ashworth notes.

  • And with "food services sales values now back above the pre-pandemic level, we shouldn’t expect any dramatic gains from here,” Ashworth adds.

What to watch: For many retailers, the second quarter might be the end of a one-year period of above-average consumer spending, a recent study from FTI Consulting found.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional details.

Go deeper

Video game sales skyrocket to record highs

Photo: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

U.S. video game sales in August hit a record $4.4 billion, proving that the bump in gaming seen during the pandemic last year wasn't a passing trend.

The details: It was a huge month for hardware, which the NPD Group reports hit $329 million, the best August sales number since 2008.

GOP Rep. Gonzalez retires in face of Trump-backed primary

Ohio Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R) Photographer: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Ohio Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R) announced his retirement on Thursday, declining to run against a Trump-backed primary challenger in 2022.

Why it matters: Gonzalez has suffered politically since siding with House Democrats to impeach the 45th president after the Capitol riot.

Swing voters oppose Texas abortion law

Protesters at a rally at the Texas State Capitol. Photo: Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images

All 10 swing voters in Axios’ latest focus groups — including those who described themselves as "pro-life" — said they oppose Texas' new anti-abortion law.

Why it matters: If their responses reflect larger patterns in U.S. society, this could hurt Republicans with women and independents in next year's midterm elections. The swing voters cited overreach, invasion of privacy and concerns about frivolous lawsuits jamming up the courts.