WASHINGTON — The U.S. economy grew at a slower pace last month and early this month, as retailers confronted soft consumer spending and expect only small sales gains for the holiday season, according to the Federal Reserve's Beige Book.
"Reports on retail spending were downbeat in general," said the Fed's anecdotal take on the economy across its 12 districts. "Most districts characterized sales as weak or indicated that they had softened."
People contacted by the Fed were "slightly pessimistic about prospects for the holiday retail season."
Consumer electronics, however, continued to make solid gains, and sales picked up in the Boston, Philadelphia, Minneapolis and Kansas City districts. In the Philadelphia district, discount stores drew a sales boost from early markdowns, while some specialty stores faltered. One store executive in the region told the Fed that "consumers have the capacity to spend when they're motivated."
Richmond-area retailers, joining stores in other areas of the country, said milder temperatures last month and early this month hurt sales of cold-weather goods. Traffic in stores also slowed in the region.
"Contacts reported that big-box chains operating in the district had already begun to roll out holiday discounts, well ahead of Thanksgiving," said the report. "A Richmond, Va., merchant said he was surprised to see the national chains 'break price' so early."
Retailers in the Chicago region pinned mixed sales results on household economic worries and higher gasoline prices as well as warmer weather. Dallas stores said higher food costs were sapping buying power from low-income shoppers.
On a more positive note, consumer spending in the Kansas City district rebounded some from September. Sales of apparel and electronics were both relatively strong in the region.
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)
The @cfda has shifted the dates of #NYFW, with Men’s showing on February 5 through February 7, and Women’s will directly follow, running from February 8 through 14. The preliminary schedule will be released on the CFDA’s web site in the next few days, but Mark Beckham, VP of marketing for the CFDA, revealed that @rafsimons will be back to close the men’s-specific part of the week with a show on February 7 #wwdfashion (📷: Kelly Taub)
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@fearofgod and @maxfieldla have teamed up on a pop-up installation. The store, located in the gallery space across from Maxfield’s Melrose Ave location, is the site of the brand’s House of God pop-up in which Fear of God founder @jerrylorenzo has created a church-inspired installation. A dozen vintage church pews sit in front of an LED screen playing 90s gospel singers in an effort to re-create an environment akin to a Southern Baptist Church, Lorenzo explained. Read more about the pop-up on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: Jennifer Johnson)
Known for his sleek, sophisticated American glamour, Norman Norell is the subject of an upcoming exhibition at @fitnyc. “Norell: Dean of American Fashion,” which runs from February 9 through April 14, will feature approximately 100 ensembles and accessories. His best work is exemplified by the designer’s glittering “mermaid” gowns frosted with thousands of hand-sewn sequins – like the one pictured. (📷: William Helburn) #wwdfashion
For pre-fall 2018, @balmain didn’t let go of the glitz. A crystal embroidered baseball jacket priced at around $40,000 hangs in the “couture” section of the brand’s first men’s pre-collection. Sporting the words “Balmain Army” across the back, the item took around two months to make. “When it was completed, it was like Christmas, it was like, ‘It’s done, it’s exactly what I wanted,’” said Balmain’s creative director @olivier_rousteing during a tour of the collection in a Paris showroom on Monday. #wwdfashion