Retail Sales Edge Up 1% in February, Apparel Sales Fall

February retail sales recovered a bit from their January deep freeze despite continued frigid weather and relentless snowstorms in the first half of the month in much of the country. Sales at sporting goods and building supply stores, auto dealers and restaurants increased, but clothing stores had a relatively slow month, with the weather not yet nice enough to stimulate sales of spring clothing and winter styles pretty much out of stock. Once better weather arrives, apparel sales are expected to pick up due to pent-up demand and some improvement in the economy.

Total retail sales grew by only 1.1% on a 12-month smoothed basis, according to the data released by the U.S. Department of Commerce, slightly ahead of January’s 0.9% rise but the second lowest monthly increase in over eighteen months.

Total retail inventory rose by 7.9% in January, the most recent month for which inventory data are available, slightly below January’s 8.2% increase, indication that many retailers were able to clear out excess inventories as the fiscal year drew to a close. Although rising retail inventories have been a concern for many industry watchers, providing support for the claim that much of the sales surge in the fourth quarter of 2013 was due to intensified promotions, it looks as though many companies in the industry are beginning the new quarter and year with clean balance sheets.

Retail1

The department, chain and discount store sector, which includes Macy’s, Sears, J.C. Penney, Walmart and many others, suffered its twenty-third straight month of declining sales. Seasonally adjusted revenues fell by 5% on a 12-month smoothed basis, slightly better than January’s 7% plunge. Big store inventory rose by 2.3% in January, causing the inventory-to-sales ratio to increase from 2.2 to 2.3.

Related Article
Kate Spade Explores Potential Sale

Retail2

Apparel specialty store sales were virtually flat. This sector, which includes brands like Gap, J.Crew, and Chico’s, continued to fare better than department and discount stores, a trend that is expected to continue through this year as consumers gravitate toward their easy-to-navigate stores and e-commerce sites. However, aggressive promotion in February resulted in very low sales growth. Specialty store inventories surged 4.6% in January, more than December’s 3.5% increase and their biggest jump in almost a year. We have already begun to see the effect of lackluster sales growth in fourth quarter and full-year profitability as retailers release their financial results.

Retail3

Sales at the combined department, chain, discount and apparel specialty retail sectors, a traditionally reliable barometer of total apparel sales, fell by 2.1% in February on a 12-month smoothed basis. It was not all that surprising given the rough weather. January inventories for the combined sectors advanced by 3.7%.

Retail4

RetailTable1


Recent News

Hollister Goes Social to Inform Teens About Invista CoolMax

Print PDFPrint PDFHollister Co. is beefing up its collections to include a new performance line. The company debuted the athleisure designs Friday, featuring Invista CoolMax All Season technology and Lycra fiber. The Advanced Stretch Jeans collection is designed to keep moisture away from the body including sweat...

This content is for Annual, Monthly and Limited members only. You can read up to five free articles each month with a Limited Level Subscription. Please log in, or register.
Log In Register
Read more

Consumer First: A Beauty Tutorial for the Fashion Industry

Print PDFPrint PDFAs the New Year begins, one sentiment seems prevalent amongst fashion consumers: fatigue. Their pain is felt acutely on the bottom line of fashion companies that were once the talk of the town. While many consumers complain about high prices, most feel truly...

This content is for Annual, Monthly and Limited members only. You can read up to five free articles each month with a Limited Level Subscription. Please log in, or register.
Log In Register
Read more

El Salvador: A Unique Option for Sourcing Quick to Market Athleisure

In El Salvador, one link in the synthetics supply chain is scarcely more than a 30-minute drive from the next—sometimes less. It’s a synthetic textile and apparel cluster, a supply chain city of sorts, and its helping athleisure make it to market faster than most other sources can manage.

This content is for Annual, Monthly and Limited members only. You can read up to five free articles each month with a Limited Level Subscription. Please log in, or register.
Log In Register
Read more

Report: Here’s the Real Cost of Compliance for Bangladesh

The world is quick to harp on either how much or how little progress Bangladesh has made in improving the conditions of its ready made garment sector, but regardless of which side you’re on, few understand the real costs for compliance there.

This content is for Annual, Monthly and Limited members only. You can read up to five free articles each month with a Limited Level Subscription. Please log in, or register.
Log In Register
Read more