WASHINGTON — Retail apparel sales showed more weakness in June as consumers kept a lid on discretionary spending and stores marked down prices.
Sales at department stores fell a seasonally adjusted 1.3 percent in June compared with May, and specialty store receipts were flat, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. Compared with a year earlier, department store sales fell 9.4 percent to $15.44 billion and specialty store sales declined 6.2 percent to $17.36 billion.
“There was extreme discounting going on in clothing, apparel and accessories [in June],” said Richard Yamarone, director of economic research at Argus Research Corp. “There was not an apparel or shoe store that did not have a sale sign in its window.”
The outlook for retailers is unlikely to improve in the short term, Yamarone said. Second-quarter results will be released soon and retailers face a difficult comparison to the same period a year ago, when government stimulus checks inflated results for many stores.
In year-over-year comparisons, June represents the ninth straight month of declining sales, and consumers seem to be more willing to spend on necessary items like personal care than discretionary items like apparel and home furnishings, said Bob Duffy, leader of the retail industry practice for global advisory firm FTI Consulting.
On a positive note, he said, year-over-year comparisons should ease in the second half when they come up against dismal sales results from last year.
“My prediction for the balance of the summer is that, barring any catastrophe, we’re going to gradually see some improvement,” Duffy said.
However, problems like the potential fallout from the financial crisis at CIT Group Inc., which provides significant levels of funding to the apparel sector, could change the game, he said.
Economists agreed a recovery in retail sales levels is a crucial part of any larger economic rebound for the U.S. All retail and food service providers reported an increase in June sales of 0.6 percent compared with May. The increase was larger than expected, but was driven primarily by increased gas prices and sales of motor vehicle parts, economists said.
“Sales in most other channels were mostly lackluster,” said Patrick Newport, U.S. economist for IHS Global Insight.
Compared with a year earlier, overall retail sales dropped 9 percent to $342.1 billion. Retail sales “fell off a cliff” in the second half of 2008, and results have been flat since, Newport said.
The continued pressures of rising unemployment and job insecurity combined with losses in financial and real estate assets have discouraged spending on discretionary items, he said.
“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
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast