Better job prospects and cheaper gasoline could be putting consumers in a better mood for shopping as the second half of the retail year gets under way.
On Tuesday, The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index rose for the fourth consecutive month, to its highest level since October 2007, while the International Council of Shopping Centers and Goldman Sachs’ chain-store sales index rose on a year-over-year and week-on-week basis for just the second time in four weeks.
The Consumer Confidence Index is at 92.4, up from 90.3 in July, as the Present Situation Index rose to 94.6 from 87.9 while the more forward-looking Expectations Index dipped to 90.9 from 91.9 last month.
The positive news on the consumer front helped the S&P 500 record its first close above 2,000, although just barely, as it rose 0.1 percent to 2,000.02 after briefly topping the 2,000 mark in midday trading Monday. The S&P 500 Retailing Industry Group subset rose 0.4 percent to 955.93.
Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at The Conference Board, said confidence increased as “improving business conditions and robust job growth helped boost consumers’ spirits.”
In their appraisal of current conditions, those who said business conditions were good inched up to 23.9 percent from 23.3 percent, while those who said jobs are “plentiful” rose to 18.2 percent from 15.6 percent.
Respondents to the survey weren’t as optimistic about the outlook for the next six months. The percentage who said they expect business conditions to improve over that span was flat at 20.4 percent. On the labor front, the reaction was mixed. While those who anticipate more jobs in the months ahead fell to 17 percent from 18.7 percent, the respondents who said they expect fewer jobs in the same period also fell, to 15.8 percent from 16.6 percent.
“The August consumer confidence increase was driven by higher levels of optimism on current economic circumstances, especially concerning job prospects,” said Chris Christopher Jr., director of consumer economics at IHS Global Insight.
Lower prices at the pump also contributed to a 4.2 percent gain in chain-store sales last week, according to the ICSC and Goldman Sachs’ weekly survey of chain-store sales.
The pickup in sales for the week ended Saturday was accompanied by a 0.6 percent sales gain in comparison to the prior week. The last time both comparisons had risen was for the week ended Aug. 2, when year-over-year sales rose 4.5 percent while sequential sales increased 0.2 percent. That matched the sequential increase of the prior week, when year-over-year sales were up 4.6 percent.
Michael Niemira, research consultant for ICSC, said sales were strong “across the board, especially for wholesale clubs, apparel stores, discounters, dollars stores and furniture stores” during a period dominated by back-to-school shopping.
“I expect sales for August to show a healthy gain of 4 to 5 percent, a notable improvement over the 3.6 percent gain in August 2013,” he added.
Citing figures from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, ICSC said consumer spending power was lifted by a drop in gasoline prices, 2.8 percent lower than in the comparable week of last year.
“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