Apparel retailers suffered another setback in March as consumers continued to shift their spending from clothing and accessories to furniture and other home products.
According to data recently released from the U.S. Department of Commerce, retail sales increased by less than 0.5% in March on a 12-month smoothed basis, to $446.8 billion, the smallest monthly increase in thirteen months.
Much of the lackluster performance was due to an almost 2 percent drop in sales at automobile dealers and parts stores, which had their worst monthly performance since September 2009. Taking cars out of the mix, retail sales rose by 1.1% on a 12-month smoothed basis.
Easter’s arrival during the last week of the month did little to get people into malls to buy spring apparel, despite the warmer-than-normal weather in much of the country. According to Big Data analytics firm RetailNext, brick-and-mortar store traffic dropped by 9.7% in March, its biggest drop in six months. Although sales per shopper rose by 2.2%, it wasn’t enough to offset the drop in foot traffic: sales at physical stores fell by 7.8%.
Department, chain and discount stores suffered an almost 6 percent decline, to $13.3 billion, while sales at apparel specialty stores dropped by 1.2% on a smoothed annual basis, to $21.1 billion.
For the combined department and specialty sector, a barometer of overall apparel, sales fell by a little more than 1 percent on a 12-month smoothed basis. The inventory-to-sales ratio rose slightly from last month.
Retailers selling products for the home fared better. Total sales of furniture and other home stores together racked up a more than 8.7% increase as older Millennials begin to move out and set up homes, a trend that has only just begun, according to industry experts, who predict continued strength in both the rental and purchase housing market.
Another bright spot in the retail market was health and personal product stores, where sales increased by 6.9%, helped by strategy implemented by many drug store chains to expand their product offering to become more and more like convenience stores, selling everything from groceries to apparel.
At the upcoming edition of Sourcing at MAGIC, attendees will be able to witness the factory of the future right on the show floor.Read more
RIS is recognizing several retail software vendors for their ability to transform industry member’s businesses with technology.Read more
The wool market has battled dwindling demand from the infiltration of high-tech fabrics in the outerwear market for many years and lost supply in its home market of Australia, where growers have increasingly opted for more profitable use of their land.Read more
The U.S. Commerce Department issued affirmative final determinations in the countervailing duty investigations of fine denier polyester staple fiber from the China and India.Read more
The cost of enjoying free shipping on Amazon is going up.Read more
GFG named two new co-CEOs, Walmart International named Judith McKenna as its new CEO and a Louis Vuitton veteran announced his exit.Read more
Portugese mill Tintex is switching from the use of conventional cotton and has launched a new fabric range called Naturally Advanced Cotton by Tintex using four different premium and responsibly grown cottons.Read more