Retail Sales Rise Despite Gas Prices

Though consumers worried about the impact of high gasoline prices on tight family budgets, they still managed to shop last week, giving retailers confidence that discounts on their summer goods would not be necessary, reports said Tuesday.

Sales at major retailers increased by 5.2 percent on a year-over-year basis for the week ended June 5, up from the preceding week's 4.6 percent pace, Redbook Research (search), an independent company, said.

A separate report on consumer confidence showed weakening confidence in the U.S. economy in theerage price of gasoline on Monday fell for the second week in a row to $2.03 a gallon, rising fuel costs have hurt Americans' views on the effectiveness of the federal government. The index's federal economic policies component dropped 4.2 points to 48.1 in June.

But high pump prices and interest rate fears didn't hold back shoppers from meeting their summertime needs, which set retailers at ease. Food, sporting goods and gardening equipment continued to be big sellers in the latest week, Redbook said.

"Retailers are currently indicating that inventories are satisfactory, making it less likely that they will need to incur costly markdowns to clear overstocking," the Redbook report said.

With consumer spending unaffected so far by record high gasoline prices, the International Council of Shopping Centers (search) forecasted June comparable store sales growth in the range of 5.0 percent to 6.0 percent on a year-over-year basis.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT), the world's largest retailer, on Monday said it still expected to see June sales growth at stores open at least one year at the low end of its 4 percent to 6 percent forecast.

The discount giant warned, however, that most customers are waiting until their first-of-the-month paycheck arrives to make purchases, suggesting the recent pickup in income may not have trickled down to all families, yet.