WASHINGTON — Hot summer weather boosted retail sales in some districts in June and July, but sales in other districts remained weak, according to the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book report released Wednesday.
This story first appeared in the August 1, 2002 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Rising temperatures led to a pickup in overall retail sales and in apparel, particularly, in such districts as New York, Cleveland, Richmond, St. Louis and San Francisco.
However, reports from Boston, Atlanta, Chicago and Dallas showed spending had weakened during the same period.
The “unseasonably cool weather” in May that hampered apparel sales in New York has been replaced by soaring temperatures and a pickup in apparel sales, according to the Beige Book.
“Much of the recent strength — as the earlier weakness — was attributed to the belated arrival of hot summer weather, which boosted sales of air conditioners, summer apparel and lawn and garden merchandise,” the Fed’s report said. “More generally, electronics, home furnishings and women’s apparel were described as the strongest categories, while men’s and children’s apparel were said to be weak.”
In the Philadelphia district, some apparel retailers posted gains in year-over-year sales, while others struggled. Department stores posted mixed sales. Discount retailers in the Cleveland district had steady growth, while specialty retailers reported improvement in conditions relative to the first five months of 2002. Apparel retailers said sales of summer clothing improved.
Meanwhile, department stores and big-box retailers in the Richmond district said sales grew at or slightly ahead of the pace in the last report. Some stores said they began hiring additional workers in anticipation of stronger sales ahead.
Stronger sales prompted one upscale department store chain to announce it was opening a new store in the Washington, D.C., area in August and is planning to hire 200 people.