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.
@kering_official is spinning off its stake in puma in an effort to focus on its luxury brands, the brand operator announced yesterday. “We are proud to have supported the turnaround of Puma, which now has unrivaled capabilities to take full advantage of the specific dynamics of its global markets and is poised to achieve substantial growth,” said François-Henri Pinault, Kering’s chief executive officer and chairman. Artémis will become a “long-term strategic shareholder” of Puma with a 29 percent stake. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
The fashion world mourns for celebrated street style photographer, Nabile Quenum, who died at age 32 in Paris.
Quenum, creator of the fashion blog “J’ai Perdu Ma Veste,” was a fashion week fixture, and regularly shot for New York magazine’s The Cut, among other outlets, and brands such as Louis Vuitton, Moncler and Adidas. He was also actively involved in the #NoFreePhotos initiative, which kicked off in the fall. Read more about Quenum in @kbsmoke's story on WWD.com. #wwdnews
@verwanggang and @maisonladuree have teamed up on a dessert collab called Vera Wang Pour Ladurée. The collection, which launched this week, features a specialty macaroon, as well as a wedding cake inspired by one of the designer’s gowns. “I could not imagine a more delicate or sophisticated creation to grace any couple’s celebration,” said Wang. #wwdfashion
“I’m Russian and I love to use all these little tricks that I got from my grandma or my mom. We didn’t have a lot of money for creams or anything like that so we would use a garden as a beauty treatment regime. We’d put cucumber in the fridge and do a cucumber mask,” says model @irinashayk on one of her beauty hacks. WWD asked celebs what their go-to self-care rituals are. See what Naomie Harris, Freida Pinto and more said on WWD.com. #wwdeye #wwdbeauty (📷: @zefashioninsider)
Exclusive: @viktorandrolf are teaming up with @Zalando on a collection made from leftover clothing. The lineup, which lands at the retailer February 1, includes 17 pieces adorned with sliced up and repurposed overstock from the retailer’s private label collection. Pictured here is a look from the collection –– see more on WWD.com. #wwdfashion #wwdnews
@duewestnyc is the newest bar joining the collection of intimate neighborhood-focused spaces in the West Village. The cocktail menu, which includes bitters and syrups made in-house, offers a “Build Your Own Old-Fashioned” – like the one pictured here – where guests can choose from a list of spirits and unexpected sugars and bitters. #wwdeye
Spotted at last night’s National Board of Review gala in NYC: Angelina Jolie. Jolie – along with Meryl Streep, @lupitanyongo and more – continued the all-black dress code from Sunday’s Golden Globes. #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)