Retail sales growth slowed again in October, according to data released by the U.S. Department of Commerce Friday, driven by tepid gains at department and specialty stores. The news underscored the current consumer spending slump and tempered the outlook for the upcoming holiday season.
Total adjusted retail sales rose by 1.7% compared to last October, to $447.3 billion, lower than last month’s 2.4% gain and less than economists had hoped for. On a 12-month smoothed basis, sales were up by 2.7%.
The continued decline in gasoline prices and the strengthening job market again helped automobile retailers—who collectively saw their sales jump by 6 percent on 12-month smoothed basis—the most. Taking cars out of the mix, retail sales increased by only 1.7%, their second smallest increase in four months.
The non-store retail sector also enjoyed big gains, and sales, driven by gains by e-commerce players like Amazon, increased by almost 8 percent.
After suffering months of declining sales, department, chain and discount stores edged into positive territory for the second consecutive month, increasing by 0.85% in October, better than September’s 0.4% rise. Department stores continue to lose share to other channels, however, particularly in apparel, where specialty stores (including fast fashion players) have been experiencing higher growth. Macy’s and Nordstrom, who both reported quarterly earnings this week, reported a pronounced slowdown in store traffic.
Apparel specialty stores sales rose by 1.7% on a smoothed basis, their slowest in eight months. Many retailers blamed on the unseasonably warm weather in the month, which kept consumers out of stores stocked with cool weather apparel, and made it more likely that stores will need to resort to discounting to clear out fall goods.
For the combined department and specialty sector, a barometer of overall apparel sales, sales increased by 1.3% in the month, their slowest collective growth rate in six months. In each of the past four months, the inventory-to-sales ratio for the combined sector has risen as well.
LevaData is tapping the power of AI to make strategic sourcing and procurement more seamless for apparel industry members.Read more
Samples, it seems, may soon end up on the endangered list if 3D modeling technology continues to improve and provides the industry with a way to cut down production timelines.Read more
Abercrombie & Fitch continues to rely on Hollister gains, while positioning the Abercrombie brand for similar success. Gap sales up on Athleta, Old Navy performance.Read more
The domestic textile industry and apparel importers have often been on opposite sides of U.S. trade issues, but in today’s political climate they seem to have found some common ground.Read more
U.S. employers added 261,000 jobs in October, pushing unemployment down to the lowest rate since the halcyon days of late 2000.Read more
While everyone’s been focused on the "retail apocalypse," the real story to emerge from 2017 might be the strange bedfellows that have emerged as everyone tries to plot a course forward. The recent partnership between Walmart and Lord & Taylor is the latest to get people talking.Read more
J.W. Anderson’s chief executive, Simon Whitehouse, is exiting the company, plus Dick's Sporting Goods tapped Paul Gaffney as its new CTO.Read more