WASHINGTON — Sales at apparel and accessories stores increased a seasonally adjusted 0.3 percent in April, to $17.5 billion, but department stores registered a 0.1 percent decline, to $17.8 billion, the Commerce Department reported Thursday.
Compared with a year earlier, sales at apparel and accessories stores were up 4.5 percent for the month and turnover at department stores slid 1.4 percent.
Across the economy, retail and food service stores posted a 0.5 percent rise in sales, below the 0.8 percent bump expected by economists.
"Overall, the sales were not terrific," said Brian Bethune, U.S. economist at Global Insight.
However, he didn't consider the report an ominous sign. "We're still of the mind that the fundamentals in terms of employment and income are still good."
Higher fuel prices remain a concern, but represent a small amount of overall household spending and aren't expected to severely bite into the apparel purchases of most consumers, experts said.
A gallon of regular gasoline sold for an average of $2.89 Thursday, up from $2.69 a month ago and $2.18 a year ago, according to the American Automobile Association
"For some consumers, they are making fewer trips to the store. However, in terms of consumer habits, most of us have habits that are pretty well ingrained," said Cynthia Jasper, professor of consumer science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She said higher gas prices won't have a big impact on apparel customers who want to buy the latest fashions.
Retailers better keep an eye on price, though.
Jasper said the American consumer in general is more concerned with fashion and price and less so with quality or brands.
"We have a disposal society, to a certain extent, in terms of our consumer products, even cars," she said. "That's running through our consumer mind at this point, and fashion is considered to be disposable; in fact, it's part of the definition of fashion that it's constantly changing."
@kith is moving into children’s. The men’s and women’s streetwear brand has launched Kidset, a Kith kids line located in New York at 64 Bleecker Street. The line includes mini versions of staple Kith pieces like the Astor bomber jacket and the Kith box logo sweatshirts, along with a wall that can display up to 120 pairs of shoes from @adidas, @newbalance, @timberland and more. #wwdfashion
“I just wanted to create this fully rounded character, but I do think what excited me most was just the opportunity to give a group of people representation that I feel needs it. I like to do characters in projects that stand for something and Karolina definitely does, so that was really exciting to me,” @ginnygardner says of her new role in @hulu’s “The Runaways.” Gardner plays Karolina Dean, a queer superhero, which is a rarity for @marvel. Read more about Gardner’s character on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @dandoperalski)
@heriethpaul and @gracebol have a moment on the @victoriassecret fashion show 2017. See every look from the runway on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: @giovanni_giannoni_photo) #wwdfashion #victoriassecret #VSFashionShow
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia