Americans cut spending at gasoline stations, department stores and electronics shops in May as retail sales registered their biggest drop in 16 months, a cautionary sign for the economy.

The Commerce Department said Wednesday that retail sales dropped 0.3 percent, the first decline since February and the sharpest since a 1 percent decrease in January 2016. Economists had expected sales to increase slightly in May after rising 0.4 percent in April.

Over the past year, retail sales have risen a solid 3.8 percent.

Last month, sales fell 2.8 percent at electronics stores, the biggest such drop since March 2016. They fell 2.4 percent at gasoline stations and 1 percent at…