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.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast