WASHINGTON — Two key U.S. government reports released Friday highlightedthe slow road to recovery ahead for the apparel sector.
Specialtystore sales dropped a seasonally adjusted 0.2 percent in Decembercompared with the previous month to $18.7 billion and department storessales fell 1.9 percent to $15.4 billion, the Commerce Department said.General merchandise stores, a category that includes discounters anddepartment stores, saw sales decline 0.7 percent to $51.4 billion.
Inyearly comparisons, sales at specialty stores rose 7.4 percent, butdepartment store sales were off 1.3 percent. Sales at generalmerchandise stores were up 2.8 percent compared with a year earlier.
Inthe overall economy, sales eked out a 0.6 percent increase in Decembercompared with November to $380.9 billion, slightly below expectations,and were up 7.9 percent from a year earlier.
“While challengescertainly still remain, consumer spending is steadily returning toprerecession levels,” said Sandy Kennedy, president of the RetailIndustry Leaders Association. “The economic uncertainty and consumeranguish that defined the past three years appears to be fading asincreasing signs of growth and stability in the economy emerge.”
Salesof all goods and services during November and December had “thestrongest showing in recent memory,” said Chris Christopher, seniorprincipal economist with IHS Global Insight, rising 5.7 percent over thesame period a year earlier.
Retail apparel prices edged up aseasonally adjusted 0.1 percent in December compared with November, butfell 1.1 percent from a year earlier, Commerce reported in its ConsumerPrice Index. Women’s apparel prices declined 0.2 percent month-to-monthand 2.1 percent year-to-year. Men’s apparel prices dropped 0.4 percentcompared with a month earlier and fell 0.7 percent from December 2009.
Pricesfor all goods and services increased 0.5 percent in December and wereup 1.5 percent from a year earlier. The so-called “core” prices, whichexclude the volatile food and energy sectors, increased 0.1 percentmonth-to-month and 0.8 percent year-to-year.
Rising coststhroughout the supply chain are putting pressure on apparel prices, butwith consumers still pinched by economic uncertainty, experts saidretailers don’t have much pricing power.
“There’s still no signof robust growth,” said Kevin Regan, senior managing director and retailindustry expert with FTI Consulting. “There are too many headwindsfacing the consumer and they’re being cautious. They’re bargain hunting.We’re still in the second or third inning [of a recovery].”
EXCLUSIVE: @tomford is opening its first-ever beauty store. The boutique, which opens November 20 in London’s Covent Gardens, was designed with the over-the-top glam Ford is known for. Read the full story on WWD.com, link in bio. #wwdbeauty #wwdnews (📷: Simon Wagner) #TomFordBeauty
New York-based DJ @harleyvnewton threw a party to celebrate the holiday collection of her dress and pajama line @hvn at the Ladurée Beverly Hills. It Girls @katebosworth, @rashidajones and more joined in on the fun, which included cocktails, croque monsieur sandwiches and a photo booth. #wwdfashion (📷: Owen Kolasinski/BFA.com)
For the holidays, @Burberry partnered with 20-year-old artist @blondeymccoy on a series of three outdoor murals in downtown Manhattan. The murals are McCoy’s interpretation of a Christmas eve party, the idea of charity and the spirit of family. His third mural, pictured here, is the most personal. The image depicts McCoy’s grandparents and father in London’s Trafalgar Square in the Seventies. “My work often features lots of sentimental objects.” #wwdeye
For spring 2018, designers applied bold colors and cartoonish motifs on everything from sneakers and belts to key chains. See all the top men’s accessories trends on WWD.com. #wwdtrends (📷: George Chinsee; Prop Styling by @rnasti; Market Editor: @luiscampuzano)
The @dior-sponsored @guggenheim international gala pre-party has a history of drawing cool-girl musical acts to serenade the crowd –– and last night was no exception. @haimtheband performed songs both new and old, and lured a star-studded audience with the likes of Rebecca Hall, Kate Mara, Mamoudou Athie and more. #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)
In a partnership between the @metopera and the @englishnationalopera, “Marnie” was born. The opera, with costumes sponsored by @mrporterlive, is an adaptation of the 1961 thriller by Winston Graham. Arianne Phillips, who created the costumes, is no rookie: She’s styled Madonna for her tours and created costumes for a myriad of films in the past. Read WWD’s interview with Phillips, where she talks about her inspiration for the opera’s costumes on WWD.com #wwdfashion
@barneysnyc took a different approach to their holiday windows this year. Instead of Christmas decor, Barneys tapped @thehaasbrothers to tell a story of positivity, gratitude and inclusivity via heartwarming silliness and humor. “It’s about kids and it’s about coming together and being family and loving each other,” said Simon Haas. #wwdfashion (📷: @joshuascottphoto)
Beauty influencer @kandeejohnson makes her foray into hair care with a collaboration with @ogx_beauty — making it the first time that OGX has teamed up for a product creation. The collab includes shampoos and conditioners in three scents. At 39 and a mom, Johnson is a different profile than the emerging social media stars, but is considered one of the pioneers of the digital beauty influencer world. Read WWD’s interview with her on wwd.com, including the strangest beauty product she’s ever tried #wwdbeauty