Small retailers felt signs of an autumnal chill in their September sales results but still managed to post better numbers than their larger competitors.
The monthly SpendingPulse for Small Business survey showed year-on-year sales gains for last month slowing to 5.6 percent, down from their 6.8 percent gain in August and 5 percent below August levels in a month-to-month comparison.
Although the September advance is the smallest posted by the group this year, it continued a more than yearlong trend in which smaller stores outperformed overall retail results, which moved up 4.1 percent.
Michael McNamara, global solutions leader for MasterCard SpendingPulse, said growth in specialty apparel, including both independents and larger chains, slowed to 3.7 percent last month from 7.1 percent in August, consistent with the trend seen when major retailers filed same-store sales results for September on Oct. 4.
The survey is conducted by MasterCard Advisors in collaboration with Wells Fargo. “Small” is defined as having less than $35 million in annual sales and a payroll of less than 200. Excluding automobiles, small stores in the U.S. generate more than $100 billion in annual retail sales.
McNamara noted that apparel retailers and those in other sectors included in the survey last month faced a series of tough challenges, ranging from difficult year-ago comparisons to “a macroeconomic environment that one can’t classify as being robust. The smaller stores as a group were up against a very tough year-ago number — they were ahead 9.4 percent in September 2011 — and they’ll face the toughest comp of the year in November, when the 2011 increase was 10.5 percent.”
The December increase last year was only a slightly less buoyant 9.3 percent.
“Small retailers in apparel will have it even harder,” he noted. “The December 2011 increase in apparel is 11 percent versus 9.5 percent in September. October is an easier number — 4.8 percent — but the figures get more difficult after that.”
McNamara said that jewelry sales in September were up 2.2 percent, with the smaller independents up 5 percent, “one of the larger discrepancies [between overall sales and those for smaller stores] of any category.”
Apparel retailers and broadline retailers generally saw weaker increases in September than they did in August. “Spending seems to be very seasonal and focused around events lately,” McNamara said. “People will take out their wallets for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, back-to-school and holiday, and then put them away or shift to another category. In August, apparel was strong on back-to-school selling, but that shifted more towards home in September.”
He also noted that smaller stores tend to feel the effects of economic downturns and recoveries somewhat later than larger stores. “The strong numbers we’ve seen in the past year might represent something of a late small-business bounce,” he said.
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