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.
“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
“Stranger Things” is getting a new cast member for season 2. Meet @sadiesink_, the 15-year-old who will be joining the Netflix series for its new season. You may recognize her from “The Glass Castle” with Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson, but the Texas native’s next role goes in an entirely different direction. She describes her character, Max, as “a rough and tumble skater girl [who] becomes friends with the boys at school.” The second season debuts on October 27. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdeye
Amid the Harvey Weinstein controversy, there’s another sector that’s being put under the spotlight for sexual abuse: the modeling industry. While rumors about abuse and sexual harassment of female and male models — and the photographers, agents and others who perpetrated it — have circulated within the fashion world for years, model @cameronrussell started posting stories from models on Instagram last week about abusive situations they’ve encountered — from sexual harassment and molestation to attempted rape. Over 75 have weighed in so far. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews
To celebrate its 16th anniversary, @dylanscandybar tapped designers and celebrities to create mosaics out of candy. The mosaics will be auctioned off to support the philanthropic cause of each participant’s choice. Pictured here is the mural created by @aliceandolivia's Stacey Bendet. For a first look at some of the other artwork being unveiled tonight, go to WWD.com. #wwdeye
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
@eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone debuted her first-ever cookbook, “Cook Beautiful,” which is heavily centered on the presentation and visual expression of food. Pictured here are her miso glazed carrots from the book. Get the recipe on WWD.com. (📷: @johnny_miller_) #wwdeye