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.
“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