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.”
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
@eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone debuted her first-ever cookbook, “Cook Beautiful,” which is heavily centered on the presentation and visual expression of food. Pictured here are her miso glazed carrots from the book. Get the recipe on WWD.com. (📷: @johnny_miller_) #wwdeye
“It’s passion that helps get anybody to a certain point and it’s what’s propelled me,” said Kith founder @ronniefieg, one of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables who are changing the face of retail, fashion and beauty. Fieg, who opened a Manhattan flagship on October 7, began his career at age 13 as a stock boy and salesman for footwear chain David Z. “I think staying true to [my] beliefs, hard work and passion have gotten me to where [Kith] is today.” See the rest of the 40 at WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
25-year-old @samweaving is about to break out this fall, starring in Netflix’s horror film “The Babysitter,” fittingly out today on Friday the 13th. That’s not the only place you’ll be seeing her, though — Weaving’s got a role Showtime’s “SMILF” and another alongside Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Though she’s got a full plate at the moment, there’s one role she’s got her eye on: Marilyn Monroe. “I’m a little too young at the moment, but it’s on my bucket list,” the actress told WWD (📷: @dandoperalski) #wwdeye
BFF's Poppy Jamie and Suki Waterhouse celebrated the launch of their bag line Pop x Suki at Nordstrom last night. "The line is really about our friendship, and how we are so different but complement each other," said Waterhouse. 👯 (📷: Katie Jones) #wwdeye
After designing the new @louisvuitton and @bulgariofficial flagships and a @chanelofficial boutique opening in Japan, @petermarinoarchitect has another project on his plate: The Lobster Club. Located in the Seagram Building, it’s the famed architect’s first restaurant project in New York, serving up modern Japanese brasserie-style cuisine. Bronze hues, bespoke material detailing, blush and chartreuse tones and a heavy emphasis on Picasso can be seen throughout. Mark your calendars for Nov. 1 for the much-anticipated opening. (📷: @clint_spaulding) #wwdeye