Sales by retailers rebounded by a stronger-than-expected 1.4 percent in May as consumers shrugged off higher gasoline prices and increased spending on cars, clothing and building materials, a Commerce Department report showed on Wednesday.

The increase was the biggest monthly rise since January 2006 and was far stronger than the 0.6 percent increase predicted by Wall Street economists in a Reuters poll. April sales were upwardly revised to a 0.1 percent fall from a 0.2 percent decline.

Excluding automobiles that account for 20 percent of total retail business, sales rose 1.3 percent following a 0.1 percent April rise that was originally reported as flat. Analysts had expected a 0.7 percent increase excluding motor vehicles and parts sales.

Sales at gasoline stations rose 3.8 percent in their strongest monthly increase since April 2006, but excluding gasoline, retail sales still rose a healthy 1.2 percent.

Sales at building materials and garden supplies retailers rose 2.1 percent in May after a 2.2 percent decline in April, while clothing retailers rang up a 2.7 percent increase in May after a 1.5 percent drop in April. Motor vehicle and parts dealer sales rose 1.8 percent after a 0.5 percent fall in April.