Spending in May dropped in both home furnishings and building materials, as the Commerce Department reports that retail numbers fell for the second straight month.

The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that advance estimates of retail and sales for June were $360.2bn, a decrease of 0.5% from the previous month after plunging 1.1% in May. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires had forecast a 0.3% decline. Year-on-year, however, the numbers are up 4.8%.

Americans are spending less on their homes, the report finds. Money spent on building materials, including gardening, continued a three-month decline dipping to $23.29bn in June from $23.52bn in May and $25.84 in April. Year-on-year spending on building materials for June 2009 is reported as $22.69bn.

Spending on home furnishings also dropped marginally to $7.54bn in June, from $7,62bn in May, and $7,68bn in April. Year-on-year it remains above the $7.42bn spent on furnishings in June 2009.

“Furniture and building material sales fell in both May and June, probably due to the expiration of the housing tax credit,” said Capital Economics analyst Paul Dales, adding that the dip in spending is also likely due to Americans having less to spend, as opposed to simply saving more.

Total sales for the April through June 2010 period were up 6.8% from the same period a year ago. Retail trade sales were down 0.6% from May 2010, but 5% above last year. Non-store retailers sales were up 12.1% from June 2009 and gasoline stations sales were up 8.8% from last year.

The results are adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes.

Write to Jacob Gaffney.

3d rendering of a row of luxury townhouses along a street

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