WASHINGTON — Clothing and accessories store sales fell 1.3 percent in July, giving up half the seasonally adjusted 2 percent gain in June, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday.
Compared with July 2001, clothing and accessories store sales were up 1.7 percent to $14.47 billion. At department stores, sales in July fell 0.1 percent and fell further by 1.7 percent year-to-year to $19.04 billion.
Discounters continued to show strong, healthy sales. Sales at general merchandise stores, which includes mass retailers, rose 0.3 percent last month and surged 6.2 percent against July 2001 to $38.43 billion.
"Apparel sales will pick up, but it will be a very volatile recovery," said Rajeev Dhawan, director of economic forecasting at Georgia State University. "As the dollar becomes weaker, the cost of imports will go up and most apparel is imported."
John Mothersole, a senior economist with the WEFA Group, said lower import levels are consistent with the depreciation of the dollar, which has been falling since the beginning of the year. He said he expects to see a "relative shift" in the import-domestic goods ratio.
"Import prices are going up a little and people will buy a little less there and start buying more domestic goods," Mothersole said.
Rosalind Wells, chief economist at the National Retail Federation, pointed out that July is traditionally a slower month for retail, as stores transition to fall inventory with clearance sales.
Retail sales overall rose 1.2 percent in July and were up 4.6 percent compared with the year-ago period.
"The data today helps reinforce our take of a very slow rebound, but one that is still on course," Mothersole said.
He said the good news is that inventories remained under control, which means in spite of "relatively tepid sales," margins improved a little.
Dhawan said consumers’ "personal disposable income has been rising at a strong rate over the past six months." He said he does not see any evidence of a double-dip recession, although the overall economy is a "bit soft."
Exclusive: @britneyspears is continuing to expand her brand. The pop icon, who appears in @kenzo ’s latest campaign, is partnering with Epic Rights to launch a line of branded merchandise. Read @hernameislex ‘s story, link in bio. #wwdnews #britneyspears
The Duchess of Cambridge channeled Princess Diana’s look upon giving birth to Prince Harry, when she and the Duke of Cambridge departed the hospital with the new baby Prince this afternoon in London. #wwdeye #princeofcambridge
The new Prince of Cambridge has arrived! The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge posed with the 8-pound newborn. She wore a look from one of her go-to designers, @jennypackham. Tap link in bio for more. #wwdeye #princeofcambridge
Jewelry label @alisonlou has made a name for itself with fine jewelry that speaks to the Millennial market. Now @twallz21 reports that the label is bringing those playful ideas to a new affordable line of lucite hoops with the launch of Loucite by Alison Lou. Here’s a look from the line modeled by @emrata. #wwdaccessories
@sarahjessicaparker and @gilt are teaming up on a bridal ready-to-wear line. Tomorrow, Parker will launch SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker Bridal — and as part of the launch, Gilt will offer 15 exclusive styles from the SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker footwear collection that were designed to complement the new line. Made out of 10 styles, the line is designed for a variety of occasions, from bridal showers to receptions. Get more details on WWD.com #wwdfashion
A grooming moment between @tanfrance and @antoni last night at the The LGBT Community Center Trailblazer Awards honoring Anna Wintour, Ricky Martin and more. See more photos at WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)
“It was a very surreal feeling. It wasn’t like we were in the studio together coming up with it — it’s more like he discovered it and loved it. I didn’t let myself get my hopes up, but then it happened it was very exciting,” said singer-songwriter @nombe on discovering that @pharrell would be using his song, “Cant Catch Me” on his HBO documentary series “Outpost.” The German-born singer — named Noah MacBeth — talked to WWD about feminism, using art as a platform for political expression and personal style. Read more on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
This season, denim is going west – in influence. Brands like @fathersdaughterla (pictured here), @tommyhilfiger Jeans, @levis and more are opting for raw, top-stitching styles. (Styled by @thealexbadia; 📷: @ryanplett)