WASHINGTON — Retail sales climbed 0.6% to $421.1 billion in May after rising an unrevised 0.1% in April, the Commerce Department reported Thursday.

May sales were stronger than the expectations of economists polled by Thomson Reuters, who expected sales to rise 0.4%. On a year-over-year unadjusted basis, retail sales were up 4.3%.

Excluding autos, retail sales were up 0.3% in May after remaining virtually unchanged the previous month. Driving the increase, which matched economist predictions, were motor vehicles and parts dealers. They experienced a 1.8% sales bump, the biggest spike since a 2.6% jump in November 2012.

Excluding both autos and gas, retail sales advanced 0.3% in May after rising 0.5% the previous month.

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