Sales growth at specialty apparel stores slowed to a crawl in February as shoppers made fewer trips to the mall.
Sales in the channel grew 1.9 percent versus a year ago, to $5.29 billion, according to MasterCard SpendingPulse. In January, sales increased 5.4 percent.
Meanwhile, average prices in February slid 0.9 percent as shopping volume rose 2.9 percent, suggesting some degree of discounting, said Michael McNamara, vice president for research and analysis at MasterCard Advisors.
Women's sales in the category dropped 0.2 percent for the month to $1.3 billion. Average price was down 2.3 percent as the number of purchases increased 2.2 percent — a state of affairs that no doubt will eat into stores' first-quarter profit margins.
Part of the problem might be that higher gasoline prices are causing shoppers to think twice before turning the key and heading out to the mall. The gallons of gasoline pumped in February declined 3.2 percent versus a year earlier.
"People are cutting back on the number of trips they're making," said McNamara. "Generally, when you see gasoline pumping down that's not a positive for the retail economy."
Even those driving a Lexus or BMW, who might not worry so much about filling the tank, do seem to have thought twice when buying last month, a key time for luxe purchases that included Valentine's Day.
Sales slid 2.2 percent to $3.35 billion in the luxury area after a 0.9 percent decline in January. Prices in the sector, which had been an island of strength, dipped 0.2 percent as shopping volume fell 2 percent. Luxury here includes high-end spending on leather goods and jewelry as well as in apparel specialty stores, department stores and restaurants.
"The fact that we're seeing lower shopping volume and sales is kind of an indication that perhaps people are cutting back on some of these higher-end purchases," said McNamara.
MasterCard sifts through data from its more than 300 million U.S. credit cards and adjusts for certain variables, such as new accounts, to create the spending overview, which is not indicative of the credit card company's own performance.
@tradesy is turning the concept of a showroom upside down with its new space in Santa Monica. Here, the company plans to hold events, art exhibits and a showcase rare fashion pieces like this Louis Vuitton boxing set. Get all the details on Tradesy’s first showroom on WWD.com. #wwdnews
Spotted last night at the @erdem x @hm launch event: Kate Bosworth, Rashida Jones, Kirsten Dunst and Selma Blair. The party, which took place in LA, also marked the opening of their pop-up shop. “I was interested in creating a collection that wasn’t in any way disposable. It was about pieces you’d create and keep forever, things that have a permanence to it,” designer Erdem Moralioglu said. #wwdeye (📷: Katie Jones)
Renee Zellweger in yellow in 2001 and again in 2017. Chosen as one of the 12 @pantone Leading Spring Colors (and dubbed “Meadowlark”), it only makes sense that the bright hue stands the test of time and is making a resurgence this season, seen already on stars like @blakelively and @gigihadid. (📷: Donato Sardello & @rexfeatures) #wwdfashion #tbt
Dior’s 70th anniversary celebration continues with a new exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. “Christian Dior,” which is scheduled to run through March 18, takes a look at the founders tenure from 1947 to 1057 and feature 40 designs. Pictured here is an evening gown from the Ailée, fall 1948-49 haute couture collection. #wwdfashion (📷: Brian Boyle)
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews