WASHINGTON — Apparel specialty retailers and department stores trimmed payrolls in December despite a gain in employment in the overall economy at a time of fiscal uncertainty, a Labor Department report showed Friday.
Economists said the tense fiscal cliff negotiation in Washington had some impact on business confidence and as a result led to weaker hiring, particularly among smaller businesses in the month. Although Congress and the White House struck a New Year’s Eve deal on taxes that averted a financial crisis, the two sides will have to negotiate a new compromise by the end of March on automatic spending cuts to federal budgets and also confront the debt ceiling, which could further dampen business and consumer confidence, according to economists.
Apparel and accessories stores cut payrolls by 18,700 jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis in December to employ 1.42 million, after adding 33,000 jobs in November. Department stores trimmed 4,800 jobs from payrolls to employ 1.5 million last month. General merchandise stores, a category that includes department stores, added 300 jobs to employ 3.1 million.
“Apparel specialty stores had a large decline in December, but that was preceded by a big increase in the preceding month,” said Scott Hoyt, director of consumer economics at Moody’s Analytics. “It was the timing of hiring with a shift in Thanksgiving,” which fell earlier this year and led to a boost in hiring in November. RELATED STORY: Stronger Growth Expected in Second Half >>
Hoyt said employment at apparel and accessories stores is still healthy, growing about 9,000 on average a month over the past four months. Department stores, on the other hand, are “hurting, although not terribly,” Hoyt said. The monthly average over the past four months is a decline of 350 jobs in the department store sector.
General merchandise stores, including both department stores and discounters, have been adding 8,000 jobs a month over the same period. “That is relatively healthy, and it is better than we saw in the first half of the year,” Hoyt said.
In the manufacturing sector, apparel employment fell by 400 to 145,800. Mills making apparel fabrics and yarns added 400 jobs to employ 119,900 last month, while mills making home furnishings products added 800 jobs to employ 115,000.
“It is hard to see employment growth accelerating early in 2013, but we do think that the economy’s fundamentals are gradually improving and look to faster growth later in the year to produce an average monthly jobs gain of 170,000 for 2013,” said Nigel Gault, chief U.S. economist at IHS Global Insight.
Donatella Versace will receive the International Award at the 2018 @cfda awards, which were announced tonight. Tap link in bio for a list of all the nominees and honorees. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @rahirezvanistudio )
The 2018 @cfda Awards nominees are out! @virgilabloh for @off____white for is nominated for Womenswear Designer of the Year. Tap link in bio for all the nominees. #wwdnews #wwdfashion ( 📷: @simonelezzi)
@chanelofficial is suing high-end vintage retailer @whatgoesaroundnyc for trademark infringement, a move that could cost the retailer millions. The French fashion house claims that it’s not only unintentionally sold counterfeit goods on occasion, but that it’s “gone out of its way to create an association with Chanel,” which does not exist. Read Chanel’s statement on WWD.com #wwdnews (@aitorrosasphoto)
Exclusive: Guillaume Henry has left @ninaricci, the fashion house said on Thursday. “After three years of mutually gratifying creative collaboration, Nina Ricci and Guillaume Henry have together decided that the designer will depart the house after the presentation of the fall-winter 2018-19 collection,” Ricci said in a statement. Get all the details on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: @aitorrosasphoto)
“When Bella enters a room all heads turn,” said @peterphilipsmakeup, creative and image director for @diormakeup. Last night, the two celebrated the product launch of Dior’s Lacquer Plump in Los Angeles with other celebs like @parisjackson, @winnieharlow and more. Head to WWD.com to see the rest of the photos from the night (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
“These shirts are an art form, it’s about getting the message out to as many people as you can. It breaks down the pretentiousness of the art gallery,” says Kumasi Sadiki, cofounder of @ebayontheblock, a store that sells merchandise by New York artists who are shifting their attention to clothes as a wearable medium. Pictured here is a design by artist @joegarvey_, one of the first to spearhead this movement. Head to WWD.com to read @mistywhitesidell full story on how their designs have become merch for the underground elite #wwdfashion
@netaporter is dedicating a part of its website – called the Fine Jewelry and Watch Destination – to highlight its high-end jewelry. The hub will feature products on the site, as well as incorporate styling advice and educational content about high-priced jewelry items. Get more details on WWD.com. #wwdaccessories
For “The Cher Show,” an upcoming musical based on @cher’s life and career, @bobmackie is once again collaborating with the singer in designing the costumes. For decades, Mackie has designed glitzy stage costumes and red carpet looks for the 71-year-old Grammy winner. Pictured here is a sketch of some of the pieces in the wardrobe of the musical, which is set to debut in Chicago on June 12 before making its way to Broadway #wwdeye