WASHINGTON — Falling gasoline prices and improving consumer confidence contributed to an uptick in retail sales in April, as specialty stores, discounters and department stores all posted gains, the Commerce Department’s monthly report released on Monday showed.
Sales at apparel and accessories stores showed the strongest gain, rising a seasonally adjusted 1.2 percent to $20.6 billion last month. Sales at department stores increased 0.3 percent to $14.7 billion. General merchandise store sales, which includes department stores, gained 1 percent to $52.2 billion.
“I think the story is that consumers are showing some resilience, but the thing that is clear to me is that growth has really slowed,” said Kevin Regan, senior managing director at FTI Consulting. “I think that people are looking for deals and continuing to shop.”
Regan said the apparel and accessories store sector continued to be positive, as evidenced by what he said were “signs of strength” by Gap Inc.
“We see budget-minded consumers continuing to shop for value,” Regan said.
He added that there is a real question about the slowdown in brick-and-mortar sales at department stores, which were down 3.6 percent year-over-year.
Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist at the National Retail Federation, said, “Today’s retail sales data is encouraging news. However positive, retail sales and consumer spending in April may not necessarily translate into a stronger or healthier second quarter.”
In the overall economy, retail sales rose 0.1 percent in April to $419 billion, after falling in March. “After a poor showing in March, retail sales performed relatively well in April,” said Chris G. Christopher, director of consumer economics at IHS Global Insight. “Consumers started purchasing more discretionary items in April as pump prices started to fall. Most retail categories had a pretty good April, with the exception of gasoline stations, grocery and drugstores.”
“Consumers are taking advantage of falling pump prices, a relatively better employment market, modest consumer goods price increases, a strong stock market and a housing market that seems to be gaining traction,” Christopher added. “When all is said and done, this is not a consumer-led recovery by any means. Many households face considerable headwinds and are not likely to throw caution to the wind anytime soon.”
Breaking: @cushnieetochs’ co-founders @carlycushnie and @ochsmichelle are parting ways. After a 10-year run, Ochs is leaving the brand. Get the full story on WWD.com – link in bio. #wwdnews #wwdfashion
@maybelline’s Kanako Takase had snow bunnies in mind when creating the beauty look for @philipppleininternational. Playing off of the bedazzled snowboards in the collection, Takase mixed two highlighters together for a luminous sheen. #wwdbeauty #nyfw (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
“There’s a huge gap between the old way of doing things and today. It takes the youth to help evolve that. You have to count on the kids today to help lead you into the future. A lot of these retailers are stuck in the past. Communication is the biggest thing,” said @ronniefieg of @kith on the youth’s role in retail. On Monday night, Jeff Staple moderated a keynote session with Fieg and @syresmith at Assembly - a series of workshops, talks and keynotes addressing topics or issues in the apparel industry. Head to WWD.com to read more advice from Fieg and what Smith thinks of his dad @willsmith’s Instagram account and sustainability (📷: @weston.wells)
@joansmalls closed the @michaelkors fall 2018 show in black sequined pants and a varsity T printed with 19 on the front and 81 on the back. 1981 – the year Kors went into business. #wwdfashion #nfyw (📷: @giovanni_giannoni_photo)
“You think your life is going to be a certain way, and nothing you thought would happen ends up happening. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be designing clothes and working with Mickey Drexler, and building something I’m deeply proud of,” said Jenna Lyons. Nine months after leaving @jcrew, Lyons is exploring the meaning of happiness. Read the interview, where Lyons talks about reinvention and more on WWD.com – link in bio. #wwdfashion (📷: Farrell) #jennalyons #jcrew