Winter Weather Wallops Retail Sales in February

Retail sales fell in February, surprising many who predicted that the recovering job market and relatively low gasoline prices would put consumers in a shopping mood during the first month of the fiscal retail year. However, severe winter weather — the lowest February temperatures in 26 years and the greatest snowfall in more than half a century — kept shoppers out of the malls.

According to data released Thursday by the Commerce Department, total retail sales fell by 0.6% from January. On a 12-month smoothed basis, the drop was 1.4%, the first decline since September 2009. On a year-over-year basis, total retail sales rose by 1.7% from February 2014, to $437 billion.

According to Big Data supplier RetailNext, brick-and-mortar store traffic dropped by 12.5% in February compared to the same month last year as cold and wintry weather kept shoppers from getting out to stores. There were double-digit drops in all key regions of the county, with the biggest declines in the South and Northeast.

Valentine’s Day (Feb. 14) was the biggest sales and traffic day of the month, while Feb. 2, on which a major storm struck the Northeast, had the lowest store traffic and sales.

The Department of Commerce also reported that total retail inventory increased by 2 percent in January, resulting in a rise in the inventory-to-sales ratio.

Retail1

For the first time in more than four years, auto sales fell slightly in the month. Excluding autos, retail sales dropped by 1.6% on a smoothed basis. Rising gas prices caused sales at gas stations to increase slightly compared to January but remained well-below year-ago levels.

Related Article
Gildan to Shutter All American Apparel Stores This Year

Department, chain and discount stores saw sales drop by a whopping 4.6% on a smoothed basis, their worst showing in 13 months.

RetailChart2

Apparel specialty stores managed to turn in an only 0.8% increase, resulting in a 1.4% drop for the combined sectors, often a barometer for apparel sales.

RetailChart3

 Retail4

Snowed-in shoppers apparently took to their computers, because e-commerce, or non-store retailing, enjoying an almost 9 percent sales increase in February, on top of January’s 5.7% rise.

Another bright spot was the restaurant sector, where sales rose by 6.4% on a 12-month smoothed basis. Though well below the almost double-digit gains of the previous several months, likely also due to the weather, people have been eating out more, particularly in casual restaurants.

RetailTable


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