Sales growth slowed at America’s major retailers last month, according to new figures.

The Goldman Sachs index of sales at stores open at least a year edged up 1.5% in May, a marked decline from the 2.4% growth in April. In May 2002, sales rose 2.4%.

The discount sector continued to lead growth. Wal-Mart posted a 2.1% same-store sales rise for the month, Target climbed 0.7% and Kohl’s was up 0.1%.

Department stores fared less well, Sears, Roebuck & Co reporting a 1.9% fall in same-store sales (and even that was better than some analysts expected). J C Penney, however, bucked the trend with a 3.2% rise. Elsewhere, Gap continued its recovery with a 10% leap; in the same month last year it declined 9%.

Pointing to high inventories, analysts believe June will bring widespread discounts, which could continue to hold back retailers’ performance.

Data sourced from: The Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff