The 2013 retail calendar got off to an uninspiring start following a mass exodus of retailers from monthly reporting and tepid results among those still participating in the ritual.
Stores generally bested analysts’ expectations but fell well short of their year-ago performances as wintry weather, delays in tax refunds, budgetary uncertainty in Washington and higher gas prices conspired to keep many consumers away from stores following the holiday season and a January dominated by clearance activity.
“Just about every retailer is going to be facing headwinds, and it adds up to a challenging picture for the first quarter,” said Rebecca Duval, vice president and analyst at BlueFin Research Partners in Boston. “Most stores had very strong comps in the first and second quarters last year, and you’ve got everything from less money in people’s paychecks and the delays in tax refunds to the weather breaking in the wrong direction to deal with now.”
Thomson Reuters analyst Jharonne Martis-Olivo noted that year-ago results “received a boost from warmer weather.”
Michael Niemira, vice president of research and chief economist at ICSC, said, “All things considered, the numbers aren’t all that bad, and I think one of the reasons is that we’re seeing improvement in both sales and prices in the housing market. That’s helping to propel the consumer forward and one reason to be optimistic.”
He said a strong jobs report from the Labor Department today would also help to bolster consumer confidence and spending.
With the end of the 2012-13 retail year, the last of the department store retailers — Nordstrom Inc., Macy’s Inc., Kohl’s Corp., Stage Stores Inc. and The Bon-Ton Stores Inc. — exited from monthly reporting, and Target Corp. joined retail giant Wal-Mart Stores Inc. on the sidelines.
Gap Inc. opted to continue the practice, but its plan to report after the close of the equity markets was upended when a transcript of its monthly call was leaked earlier in the day, leading to a temporary halt in trading of its shares.
Despite the premature reportage, Gap excelled during the month with a 3 percent comparable-store sales increase overall. The 6 percent increase at Old Navy qualified as the strongest gain of the month, a distinction shared with Costco Wholesale Corp., with the exclusion of fuel, and American Apparel Inc., with the inclusion of online sales. The Gap division was up 2 percent while Banana Republic trended down 5 percent.
Taken together, and with an abbreviated sample, the Thomson Reuters Same-Store Sales Index was up 3.9 percent, excluding drugstores, better than the final 3.3 percent estimate for the month and the weakest performance since last May. The International Council of Shopping Centers pinpointed the chain-store sales gain, also excluding drugstores, at 4.2 percent, a point weaker than in January.
With the department stores and the biggest discounters now out of the comp mix, much of the heavy lifting fell to Gap and to the nation’s two largest off-price chains, The TJX Cos. Inc. and Ross Stores Inc. Ross was a double disappointment, both missing estimates and registering a rare decline, its 1 point drop qualifying as its worst result since a 2 percent drop in January 2009. Michael Balmuth, vice chairman and chief executive officer, projected a 1 to 2 percent decline in March and a 5 to 6 percent upward rebound in April, with Easter falling later than it did a year ago.
TJX fared better, moving up 1 percent, but both retailers felt a whiff of disappointment from Wall Street. Ross shares dropped $4.47, or 7.5 percent, to $55.23 while TJX’s slipped 32 cents, or 0.7 percent, to $44.62. The S&P Retailing Industry Group overall fell 1.42 points, or 0.2 percent, to 720.93 while the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 33.25 points, or 0.2 percent, to 14,329.49 after hitting an all-time high of 14,354.69 during midday trading.
EXCLUSIVE: Two and half months after John Targon, cofounder and codesigner of Baja East, was hired as creative director of the contemporary division at Marc Jacobs, he has left the company, WWD has learned. Marc Jacobs International, which is owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, confirmed Targon’s departure in a statement: “John Targon is a talented designer and we appreciate the work he has done here. Ultimately working together did not make sense for the brand and we wish him the best.” Read the story by @jessiredale, link in bio. #wwdnews
@theluxurycollection is officially launching a collection, tapping Sofia Sanchez de Betak for the capsule. Over 30 styles will be featured in the Chufy x The Luxury Collection, debuting next month at Bergdorf Goodman, The Webster, FiveStory and more. De Betak, known as “@chufy,” drew inspiration for the collection from her trips to Japan in the past year #wwdfashion
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@longchamp, which marks its 70th anniversary this year, just opened its biggest U.S. store on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue. On the lower level there’s a floor-to-ceiling display of the brand’s iconic Le Pliage bag – in all of its different colors, shapes and sizes. Customers can also have their product personalized in-store by imprinting names, initials or emblems. #wwdfashion (📷: @ericmtownsend)
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With her costume pearl necklace and what-you-see-is-what-you-get style, Barbara Bush, who died Tuesday at age 92, was a straight-shooter from start to finish.
Born Barbara Pierce in New York City, Bush served as the 37th first lady, as well as the country’s second lady from 1981 to 1989. In addition to being part of the longest presidential marriage — 73 years — Bush also had the unlikely distinction of having one son, George W., become the 43rd president and another son, Jeb, run unsuccessfully in 2016. Having served as second lady during the Reagan administration’s two terms and lived all over the world during her own husband’s ascending political career, Barbara Bush made it clear that literacy — not fashion — was her priority. Read more from Rosemary Feitelberg’s obituary on the late First Lady in WWD.com, link in bio. #barbarabush #wwdnews
Western and ’90s trends have influenced denim for fall 2018. Think raw, dark and coated jeans mixed with bold prints and tough leather. #trendtuesdays #wwdfashion (Styled by @thealexbadia;📷: @ryanplett)