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.
London’s newly opened @designmuseum will look back on the life and work of Azzedine Alaïa in a show that the designer helped to curate before he died of heart failure last month. The retrospective, which Alaïa had worked on with Mark Wilson, chief curator of the @groningermuseum, will look at the impact of his work worldwide. The show, “Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier,” will run from May 10 to October 7. Read more about the exhibit on WWD.com #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @zefashioninsider)
@Pharrell and his wife Helen Lasichanh were among the stars that came out to celebrate @rimowa’s first pop-up concept shop. The space, which is located on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, draws inspiration from airport luggage carousels and lounge areas – and features the company’s luggage and accessories. If the pop-up is successful it could pave the way for addition temporary shops throughout the world. #wwdfashion (📷: Owen Kolasinski/BFA)
@carineroitfeld celebrated @crfashionbook’s first calendar last night with a dinner party at Spring Place in Manhattan. Photographed by @stevenkleinstudio, the calendar takes on a fitness theme and features @joansmalls, @gigihadid, @danielle_herrington_ – pictured here – and more. “[Carine Roitfeld] wanted me to feel sexy and she wanted me to be myself and feel it out on my own and do what I felt was right,” said Herrington, aka Miss October. #wwdeye
@saintrecords and @virgilabloh last night at @americanexpress’ “A Night With Success Makers” event. “I always bring it back to community because without that I wouldn’t have the courage,” said Knowles when asked how she has gotten where she is now. Read more highlights from their conversation on WWD.com. #wwdeye (📷: @lizdoupnik)
This Just In: Industry sources have told WWD that Anastasia Soare is rumored to be considering selling her beauty business, @anastasiabeverlyhills. According to those sources, Soare has tapped investment bank Imperial Capital to explore sale options for her eponymous beauty brand –– and with at least $340 million in net sales, this would be a big deal. Put in context of other recent transactions for makeup companies, Soare’s price tag could be in the billions if she were to sell the whole thing. #wwdnews #wwdbeauty (📷: @clint_spaulding)
@assouline’s latest book, “The Spirit of Bentley: Be Extraordinary” captures the adventurous attitudes and opulent lifestyles of @bentleymotors’ most creative owners and enthusiasts throughout the U.K. The 292-page hardcover has a section dedicated to showing its team of skilled artisans and photos of its most colorful owners, from George Bamford to designer @alicetemperley, pictured here by Aline Coquelle. #wwdeye
@google released its report on the most popular search terms this year. For fashion brands, the list was led by @gucci, the luxury brand that stunned the market last October when it pledged to stop using fur. Runner ups were @supremenewyork and @fashionnova, along with more established brands like @louisvuitton, @chanelofficial and @ysl. #wwdfashion (📷: @aitorrosasphoto)
In yet another fashion show shuffle, @elleryland is moving its show in sync with the Paris couture calendar — though the brand is still keeping one foot on the city’s ready-to-wear schedule. Their runway show in January will coincide with the launch of a new strategy: designing two main collections each year instead of four, which will then be released in four drops. “As we all know, the system needs to change. We need to show sooner to give time back to artisans and designers to do what they do best — create,” said founder Kym Ellery. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @kukukuba)
@maxmara’s classic 101801 coat was the cornerstone of its pre-fall 2018 collection. The design team expanded the traditional double-breasted, kimono-sleeved style into a trapeze coat, lean belted styles and a peacoat and presented them in monochromatic looks – like the camel one pictured here. #wwdfashion #prefall18 (📷: George Chinsee)