WWD.com/beauty-industry-news/financial/may-starts-hopeful-at-retail-731660/
government-trade
government-trade

May Starts Hopeful at Retail

Stores dusted themselves off after reporting a rough April last week and said so far May has been, more or less, on plan.

NEW YORK — Stores dusted themselves off after reporting a rough April last week and said May has been, more or less, on plan.

Sales last week in Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s U.S. operations tracked in line with the firm’s planned 1 to 3 percent comparable-store gain for May. Apparel was among the weakest merchandise categories of the week. Traffic and average ticket each rose, with the latter making up a bit more of the comp increase.

Target Corp. said it was on track to meet its plan, calling for a flat to up 2 percent comp at its discount stores in May. The total corporation is expected to lag the lead division by a percentage point. Weakest merchandise categories at the discount stores last week included men’s apparel, jewelry and accessories and intimate apparel.

J.C. Penney Co. said department stores sales for the second week of its fiscal month tracked toward the expected 2 to 3 percent comp increase in May. Taken together, the first two weeks of the month tracked ahead of plan.

ShopKo Stores Inc. said comps for the first week of the month came in below the May plan for a low-single-digit decline.

In other Target news, the firm said it plans to drop paid vacation and healthcare coverage for part-time workers at its namesake stores.

The moves, which are part of an overall restructuring of the benefit program at the chain, will affect employees who average 20 hours or less a week and will take hold next March.

“Overall, the majority of our team members are actually going to have a richer package,” said a Target spokeswoman.

“We’re doing this to remain competitive and even with the changes, we’ll still have one of the better benefit packages in retail,” she said. “It’s not a cost-saving measure and, in fact, we may end up spending more money on benefits as a result of some of the changes.”

In all, Target’s 1,167 discount stores employ about 245,000.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. offers employees who work fewer than 34 hours a week health care and paid vacation after a two-year waiting period, according to a spokeswoman. There is also interim health care available from the day of hire.