Friday, May 11, 2007

April Retail Results Are In

This is a two-post day.

The April retailing results were reported early this morning by Media Post's Marketing Daily, and the title of the article said it all: "April Retail Sales Went From Worse to Wretched."

Low-cost mass marketers suffered declines: Wal-Mart had a stunning drop of 4.6% in comparable-stores sales (its worst month since it began reporting 28 years ago), Target dropped 6.1% and Kohl's took a dive of 10.5%.

The article described the teen retail category as "exceptionally gruesome" with Abercrombie & Fitch falling 15%, the Gap dropping 16% and Old Navy plunging 20%.

Department store sales were weak. J.C. Penney fell 4.7% while Federated Department Stores' same-store sales fell 2.2%.

Retail Forward, a consulting company that tracks retail sales, says its index of more than 50 retailers showed an overall decline of 1.5% in April from the prior month, compared to a 6.1% sales-weighted composite reported last month, and to a 6.7% composite reported in April of 2006, noting that warehouse clubs, dollar stores, and high-end department stores were the only retailers that managed increases.

Upscale retailer Nordstrom posted gains of 3.1% in same-store sales while Saks Fifth Avenue celebrated an 11.7% gain.

Multiple factors were listed for the disappointing April figures: Easter fell in March this year, and cool weather hurt spring apparel sales. However, the dichotomy between high-end retailers and low-end retailers indicates that that affluent are still buying. High gas prices, the slumping housing market and job losses are having an impact on lower-income shoppers.

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