WASHINGTON — Investors poured money into U.S. retail stocks Friday, pushing the sector to a new high after a much better-than-expected reading on January employment bolstered the case for a strengthening recovery.
The U.S. added 243,000 jobs in January compared with December — the largest one-month increase since April — and the unemployment rate fell to 8.3 percent from 8.5 percent, according to the Labor Department. Economists expected job gains of just 155,000 and a steady unemployment rate.
Department stores, general merchandise stores, textile mills and apparel manufacturers all followed the national trend and boosted payrolls in January, while apparel and accessories stores trimmed back in the post-holiday season.
The S&P Retail Index jumped 1.7 percent, or 9.61 points, to 563.34 — having traded as high as 563.80. The broad reading of U.S. retail stocks, which goes back to 2002, charged past its high from July last month and topped out at 561.70 on Jan. 26.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average perked up 1.2 percent, or 156.82 points, to close at 12,862.23.
Department stores added 19,400 seasonally adjusted jobs in January compared with December to employ 1.6 million, while general merchandise stores, which include discounters and department stores, increased employment by 15,000 to 3.1 million. Apparel and accessories stores cut payrolls by 13,600 last month to employ 1.37 million.
“In apparel [specialty stores], yes, we lost 13,600 jobs [in January], but the prior two months added over 17,000 jobs,” said Scott Hoyt, senior director of consumer economics at Moody’s Analytics. “I think the trend here is one of modest growth in employment and clearly this time of year, there tends to be volatility in the data because it is difficult for the seasonal adjustment process to correctly pick up seasonal hiring and firing.”
Hoyt also pointed out that apparel and accessories store employment was up 1.3 percent year-over-year.
Hoyt said the gains for department stores in January, the fifth straight month of payroll increases, suggests “pretty strong growth.”
Further down the pipeline, apparel manufacturers added 100 jobs to employ 149,800, while mills making apparel fabric and yarns boosted payrolls by 700 to employ 120,300. Mills making home furnishings products decreased employment by 300 to employ 114,100.
“The headline jobs increase of 243,000 in January was far better than expected,” said Nigel Gault, chief U.S. economist at IHS Global Insight. “Job gains were broadly spread across the private sector. Manufacturing, business services, health care and leisure and hospitality were the standouts. Hours worked rose as did hourly earnings, giving welcome income support to consumers.”
Gault said while a generally mild winter played a role in the overall employment picture, as construction workers and other outdoor industries were able to employ more workers, he added, “The job gains were far too widely spread to be just a weather phenomenon. The figures suggest a broadly based acceleration in employment growth.”
“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