WASHINGTON — Apparel and accessories stores, discounters and department stores all posted modest gains in April, as sales in the overall economy rose slightly but were below expectations, the Commerce Department’s monthly retail sales report showed Tuesday.
Specialty stores posted a seasonally adjusted 1.2 percent increase in sales to $21 billion last month, while department store sales were up 1.8 percent to $14.2 billion. General merchandise stores, a category that includes department stores, edged up 0.2 percent to $55.4 billion in April.
“Those numbers would all be what I would call in line with expectations in the sense that February and March were very challenged months for the combined reasons of weather, the late Easter and the fact that people got crushed with home-heating bills [this past winter],” said Craig Johnson, president of Customer Growth Partners. “With the weather bounce back and a late Easter in April, some sequential improvement [was expected].”
However, Johnson said retail in general has been anemic and has had a “subpar” season, with the single biggest driver being disposable income growth.
“Only 48 percent of working-age adults have full-time jobs,” he said. “When you have numbers like that, you never have strong income growth.”
Johnson said, “Apparel has been sluggish for some time. It is exceedingly price competitive,” adding that warmer weather in April did not give retailers enough time to “make up for all of the lost ground in apparel sales” in the first quarter.
Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist at the National Retail Federation, said: “Even though retail sales were weaker than anticipated, the fundamentals of the economy, including improving job growth and income gains, remain positive. While the shift in Easter played into the seasonal figures, NRF remains optimistic that retail sales will keep their positive trajectory, albeit in fits and starts, in the second quarter.”
In the overall economy, retail sales rose 0.1 percent to $434.6 billion in April, signaling a disappointing start to the second quarter, although economists for the most part maintained a positive outlook for the quarter.
“This is a relatively good report showing that consumers were quick to make up for the shopping they didn’t do in January,” said Kristin Reynolds, U.S. economist at IHS. “Looking ahead, we expect that the improving employment picture and consumer mood at elevated levels will lead to a solid second quarter for retail sales.”
London’s newly opened @designmuseum will look back on the life and work of Azzedine Alaïa in a show that the designer helped to curate before he died of heart failure last month. The retrospective, which Alaïa had worked on with Mark Wilson, chief curator of the @groningermuseum, will look at the impact of his work worldwide. The show, “Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier,” will run from May 10 to October 7. Read more about the exhibit on WWD.com #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @zefashioninsider)
@Pharrell and his wife Helen Lasichanh were among the stars that came out to celebrate @rimowa’s first pop-up concept shop. The space, which is located on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, draws inspiration from airport luggage carousels and lounge areas – and features the company’s luggage and accessories. If the pop-up is successful it could pave the way for addition temporary shops throughout the world. #wwdfashion (📷: Owen Kolasinski/BFA)
@carineroitfeld celebrated @crfashionbook’s first calendar last night with a dinner party at Spring Place in Manhattan. Photographed by @stevenkleinstudio, the calendar takes on a fitness theme and features @joansmalls, @gigihadid, @danielle_herrington_ – pictured here – and more. “[Carine Roitfeld] wanted me to feel sexy and she wanted me to be myself and feel it out on my own and do what I felt was right,” said Herrington, aka Miss October. #wwdeye
@saintrecords and @virgilabloh last night at @americanexpress’ “A Night With Success Makers” event. “I always bring it back to community because without that I wouldn’t have the courage,” said Knowles when asked how she has gotten where she is now. Read more highlights from their conversation on WWD.com. #wwdeye (📷: @lizdoupnik)
This Just In: Industry sources have told WWD that Anastasia Soare is rumored to be considering selling her beauty business, @anastasiabeverlyhills. According to those sources, Soare has tapped investment bank Imperial Capital to explore sale options for her eponymous beauty brand –– and with at least $340 million in net sales, this would be a big deal. Put in context of other recent transactions for makeup companies, Soare’s price tag could be in the billions if she were to sell the whole thing. #wwdnews #wwdbeauty (📷: @clint_spaulding)
@assouline’s latest book, “The Spirit of Bentley: Be Extraordinary” captures the adventurous attitudes and opulent lifestyles of @bentleymotors’ most creative owners and enthusiasts throughout the U.K. The 292-page hardcover has a section dedicated to showing its team of skilled artisans and photos of its most colorful owners, from George Bamford to designer @alicetemperley, pictured here by Aline Coquelle. #wwdeye
@google released its report on the most popular search terms this year. For fashion brands, the list was led by @gucci, the luxury brand that stunned the market last October when it pledged to stop using fur. Runner ups were @supremenewyork and @fashionnova, along with more established brands like @louisvuitton, @chanelofficial and @ysl. #wwdfashion (📷: @aitorrosasphoto)
In yet another fashion show shuffle, @elleryland is moving its show in sync with the Paris couture calendar — though the brand is still keeping one foot on the city’s ready-to-wear schedule. Their runway show in January will coincide with the launch of a new strategy: designing two main collections each year instead of four, which will then be released in four drops. “As we all know, the system needs to change. We need to show sooner to give time back to artisans and designers to do what they do best — create,” said founder Kym Ellery. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @kukukuba)
@maxmara’s classic 101801 coat was the cornerstone of its pre-fall 2018 collection. The design team expanded the traditional double-breasted, kimono-sleeved style into a trapeze coat, lean belted styles and a peacoat and presented them in monochromatic looks – like the camel one pictured here. #wwdfashion #prefall18 (📷: George Chinsee)