WASHINGTON — The pace of overall economic activity inched up a notch in June and July, while apparel sales were sluggish in some areas of the country and robust in others, the Federal Reserve reported Wednesday.
Apparel sales “improved noticeably” in New York while sales in Atlanta, Kansas City and Minneapolis posted slight to modest gains, according to the Fed’s Beige Book report, a snapshot of the economy based on surveys of businesses in the bank’s 12 districts.
Retailers in many districts said they did not expect the recently implemented reductions in federal income taxes to have much impact on retail sales while the employment picture remained weak at best.
President Bush attempted to reassure the American public about the economy Wednesday in a nationally televised news conference in the Rose Garden.
Bush defended his handling of the economy and his tax cuts and claimed the economy is on the verge of a turn-around.
“The stock market started to decline in March 2000, then the first quarter of 2001 had a recession and then we got attacked on 9/11,” said Bush. “And then corporate scandal started to bubble up to the surface which created a lack of confidence in the system, and then we had the drumbeat to war [in Iraq] every day last summer to this spring. That’s not a convincing environment for people to take risk.”
He insisted the economy is growing but noted there are a lot of obstacles to overcome, including the unemployment rate of 6.4 percent, a nine-year high.
“There are hopeful signs,” Bush said. “Most economists believe over the next 18 months we will see positive economic growth: Interest rates are low, housing starts are strong and manufacturing indices are improving….I had a policy decision to make and I made the decision to address the recession by a tax cut.”
All of these factors led to a mixed economic picture in the Federal Reserve’s districts over the past two months.
Eight of the 12 districts reported an uptick in overall activity while four — Chicago, St. Louis, San Francisco and Atlanta — reported sluggish or mixed activity.Apparel sales were weak in the Boston, Cleveland and Philadelphia districts but were higher in the New York and Richmond districts, the Fed said.
The New York district outperformed other areas with a strong gain in apparel sales as well as a pickup in women’s apparel sales.
“Sales of seasonal merchandise, such as summer apparel, lawn and garden, cooling appliances, have been particularly robust,” the Fed said in the report. “A number of retail chains note a marked pickup in sales of women’s apparel.”
In the Philadelphia district, sales of seasonal merchandise “picked up noticeably as hot weather took hold of the region, although several merchants noted that women’s summer apparel has not been selling well, continuing the lackluster trend in sales of women’s apparel generally,” the report continued.
A central North Carolina department store manager quoted in the report said sales had been “erratic” as local textile plants extended their summer shutdowns.
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
“It’s passion that helps get anybody to a certain point and it’s what’s propelled me,” said Kith founder @ronniefieg, one of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables who are changing the face of retail, fashion and beauty. Fieg, who opened a Manhattan flagship on October 7, began his career at age 13 as a stock boy and salesman for footwear chain David Z. “I think staying true to [my] beliefs, hard work and passion have gotten me to where [Kith] is today.” See the rest of the 40 at WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
25-year-old @samweaving is about to break out this fall, starring in Netflix’s horror film “The Babysitter,” fittingly out today on Friday the 13th. That’s not the only place you’ll be seeing her, though — Weaving’s got a role Showtime’s “SMILF” and another alongside Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Though she’s got a full plate at the moment, there’s one role she’s got her eye on: Marilyn Monroe. “I’m a little too young at the moment, but it’s on my bucket list,” the actress told WWD (📷: @dandoperalski) #wwdeye
BFF's Poppy Jamie and Suki Waterhouse celebrated the launch of their bag line Pop x Suki at Nordstrom last night. "The line is really about our friendship, and how we are so different but complement each other," said Waterhouse. 👯 (📷: Katie Jones) #wwdeye
After designing the new @louisvuitton and @bulgariofficial flagships and a @chanelofficial boutique opening in Japan, @petermarinoarchitect has another project on his plate: The Lobster Club. Located in the Seagram Building, it’s the famed architect’s first restaurant project in New York, serving up modern Japanese brasserie-style cuisine. Bronze hues, bespoke material detailing, blush and chartreuse tones and a heavy emphasis on Picasso can be seen throughout. Mark your calendars for Nov. 1 for the much-anticipated opening. (📷: @clint_spaulding) #wwdeye
Did you know: @carlychaikin of "Mr. Robot" has been painting for about a decade? The actress, who plays Darlene on the show, is a self-taught artist who lists Salvador Dalí and Chuck Close as some of her idols. Chaikin told WWD that painting is a form of meditation for her — A much-needed one given the intensity of "Mr. Robot." See a piece Chaikin is working on at WWD.com (📷: @jilliansollazzo) #wwdeye