WASHINGTON — Sales at specialty stores increased 0.2 percent in July from the previous month, while department store volume grew 0.1 percent, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday.
Compared with July 2007, specialty store sales advanced 0.9 percent to $19.13 billion, but those at department stores fell 2.1 percent to $17.2 billion.
Sales for all retail and food service providers dipped 0.1 percent in July compared with the previous month, the worst results since February. The Commerce Department said total retail sales in July were 2.6 percent higher than a year earlier. Analysts said results were largely in line with expectations. June sales were revised upward to a 0.3 percent increase from initial reports of a 0.1 percent gain.
Results were weak when individual retailers reported their same-store sales last Thursday, with many missing expectations or reporting declining numbers.
July continued to benefit from the residual effects of the last round of federal economic stimulus checks, but the effect is starting to slow down and probably won’t help results moving forward, economists said.
“The consumer is running out of steam,” said Nigel Gault, chief U.S. economist at Global Insight. “There is some boost to the level of spending still in place from the stimulus checks, which probably helped to offset the drag from the very high gasoline prices in July.”
Looking ahead to August, gas prices have come down a little, but the stimulus checks ended, which could mean lackluster back-to-school spending. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. gave soft guidance for the month, despite doing better than many other retailers recently, which could bode ill for the overall outlook, Gault said.
Retailers did their best to protect margins as they faced a difficult consumer market combined with rising costs in the last several months, said Charles McMillion, president and chief economist at MBG Information Services.
Transportation and energy costs in particular have risen, and employee compensation costs have also increased, he said.
“For apparel, it’s been really tight,” he said. “If we’re not in a recession we’re very close, and that’s never a good time for retail.”
Taking the final spot on the mens’ portion of New York Fashion Week calendar next month will be none other than @tomford. Though he’s shown his men’s wear in New York in the past, this will mark the first time the designer has shown his men’s collection alone during New York Fashion Week: Men’s. His runway show will debut on February 6 at the Park Avenue Armory. #wwdfashion
London-based couture house @ralphandrusso has certainly been in the spotlight, having its dresses worn by @beyonce, Angelina Jolie, Meghan Markle in her engagement photos and more. For couture, Tamara Ralph focused on ornamentation — think: feathers with chain mail, jet embroidery and clusters of pearls and crystals. See the rest of the collection on WWD.com #wwdfashion #couture (📷: @giovanni_giannoni_photo)
Minnie Mouse celebrated her 90th birthday by getting her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. For her celebratory luncheon, @coach’s creative director @stuartvevers dressed her in a custom made prairie dress, complete with Vever’s take on the polka dot – black sequined versions – under a cropped motorcycle jacket. The designer also put his own mark on Minnie’s classic red shoes, infusing the color with sparkles and adding some Coach crystals. “We chose colors that were very Minnie and also represented quintessential Coach elements,” said Vevers. #wwdfashion #nationalpolkadotday (📷: George Chinsee)
@nickjonas is unveiling his first-ever apparel collection through a partnership with John Varvatos. The limited-edition capsule, which makes its debut in spring, also marks the first time the designer has collaborated with anyone on a line. “The process in working with Nick is amazing. It’s inspiring to be around someone who is not only connected with the trade that they do, but also with what’s happening in the environment around him, and how that connects to what we do with style,” said Varvatos. (RG: @johnvarvatos) #wwdfashion
@margotrobbie steps out onto the red carpet wearing @miumiu. The actress is nominated for “Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role” in “I, Tonya” at the #SagAwards. (📷: Stewart Cook) #wwdfashion
For @massimogiorgetti of @msgm, the Nineties are his favorite decade. “They had a huge impact on my personal growth. What I like of the Nineties is that they are not so precise in terms of style as other decades…there was actually a bit of everything,” he said. As seen on MSGM’s Spring 2018 show: tie-dye and a bit of grunge, two styles that are synonymous with the decade #wwdfashion #wwddecades (📷: @kukukuba)