WASHINGTON -- Consumers spent less on cars in May, sending retail sales down for the first time in nearly a year.

The Commerce Department says retail sales dropped 0.2 percent last month. It was the first decline after 10 straight increases.

A cutback on incentives and supply disruptions stemming from the Japan crises pushed auto sales down 2.9 percent. It was the biggest setback for the industry in three years. When excluding autos, retail sales rose 0.3 percent.

The slump in retail sales was the latest report signaling that the economy lost momentum in May. Consumers are struggling to deal with high gasoline prices and a slowdown in hiring. While the surge in gas prices eased in May, pump prices are still significantly higher than a year ago.