WASHINGTON — Apparel and accessories store sales increased a seasonally adjusted 2.6 percent in November, outpacing department stores, which posted a 1 percent gain.
Total retail and food service sales grew twice as fast as economists had forecast, advancing 1.2 percent in November compared with October, the Commerce Department said Thursday. Total retail sales of all goods and services showed broad-based strength, led by a 6.8 percent jump at gas stations because of higher prices.
The strong showing of consumer spending, which makes up two-thirds of the economy, assuaged some fears about a possible recession.
"There's nothing like good news at Christmastime to make people feel better," said James Smith, chief economist for Parsec Financial Management. "It looks like an amazingly good month."
Compared with a year ago, sales at apparel and accessories stores jumped 6.6 percent to $19.3 billion, as volume at department stores fell 0.4 percent to $17.5 billion.
Department stores, the only type of retail sector that posted a year-to-year sales decline, are likely still being affected by the transformation of the old May department stores, such as Hecht's, to the Macy's nameplate, Smith said.
Sales at direct merchants, including online and through mail-order catalogues, advanced 1.9 percent to $25.6 billion. But consumers going online or venturing out for their holiday shopping faced economic pressures, from surging energy and gasoline prices to the slowdown in the housing market.
"But retailers are hungry for sales, and the recent stepping up of marketing programs and discounts appears to be delivering some dividends in terms of maintaining reasonably good sales momentum," Global Insight U.S. economist Brian Bethune wrote in an analysis.
Even if stores were able to drive sales with price promotions and other incentives, their impact on the bottom line won't be clear until retailers report earnings next year.
"Consumers have saved plenty of holiday shopping for December," said Rosalind Wells, the National Retail Federation's chief economist.
The average person had completed only 36.4 percent of their holiday shopping by the end of November, according to a survey commissioned by the NRF.
“I think what’s so interesting about the #MeToo movement and this whole new wave of feminism in general, is that women are finally seeing, ’Oh I can start my own company, oh I can lear to code, oh I can leave my nine-to-five job and do the thing I want to do,” said @brooklyndecker ahead of her @sxsw talk for @createcultivate. The former model took the stage to share wisdom about networking and female-driven entrepreneurship. #wwdeye #sxsw (📷: @jgreenery)
“I was making the guacamole when my scout saw me,” says model @stuckinteenage on being discovered just six months ago while working at @chipotlemexicangrill. Since then Williams has signed with @dnamodels, walked in her first show at @calvinklein and landed on the cover of @vogueitalia – a high point of any model’s career. To read @lisajlockwood’s full interview with the model on her experiences thus far, head to WWD.com – link in bio. (📷: George Chinsee)
“I love the idea of dialogue, period. It’s where I’ve always gotten my inspiration from: hearing other women speak, their journeys and their paths,” said @hereisgina, who delivered the keynote speech at the @sxsw conference for @createcultivate, the online platform and conference series for women. For her two panels, Rodriguez chose female empowering, female-led and female entrepreneurs to focus on. Head to WWD.com to read more about her thoughts on Time’s Up, growing up in a family of women and why we “need a girls’ club.” #wwdeye #sxsw (📷: @jgreenery)
Leading luxury brand are shaking things up to keep up with streetwear. Case in point: the arrival of @mrkimjones as artistic director of @diorhomme. Jones, who succeeds @Kris_Van_Assche, is seen as one of the handful of designers who can actually straddle the luxury and streetwear worlds — which could lead to even more changes at established brands. What could this mean for the rest of the menswear landscape? Head to WWD.com to find out what experts predict #wwdfashion (📷: @franckmura)
“It’s like buying groceries. You’re going to buy the best mango, the best mozzarella, the best things. You have to, or others are going to take it all,” said @gabrielahearst on why she uses only the finest fabrics. Last week, Hearst received her first @cfda nomination for Womenswear Designer of the Year, and earlier this month she opened a permanent showroom in Paris. To read @jessiredale’s interview with the designer and find out why this is shaping up to be a big year for her, head to WWD.com. #wwdfashion (📷: @francoisgoize)
“It’s an interesting thing, playing a younger version of your mother. It’s an interesting concept. I adore my mom and love her in every capacity, but it was just something that had never crossed my mind,” says @anniemstarke on playing a young Joan Castleman in “The Wife.” The same role will be played by her mother Glenn Close. Read more about her growing up in the film industry as the daughter of producer John H. Starke and Close and what she has planned for the future #wwdeye (📷: @nataliamantini)
@asics is launching a new streetwear sneaker inspired by its latest ambassador, @steveaoki. The Hyper-Kenzen x Aoki, which will launch at @footlocker stores exclusively tomorrow, is a slip-on style that incorporates the brand’s proprietary Gel technology through beads integrated into the midsole for comfort and endurance. Read the full story on WWD.com.