Retail Sales Drop 1.2 Percent in May, Biggest Plunge in 8 Months

WASHINGTON -- Retail sales plunged in May by the largest amount in eight months as consumers slashed spending on everything from cars to clothing. The big drop raises new worries about the durability of the economic recovery.

The Commerce Department says that spending fell 1.2 percent last month. Auto sales were down 1.7 percent but there was widespread weakness in a number of areas. Excluding autos, sales fell 1.1 percent.

The big decline cast new doubts about the strength of the economic recovery. Consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of total economic activity. Economists are concerned that households will start trimming outlays as they continued to be battered by high unemployment.