Make us your home page

Cost-saving retailers are up in down times

Retail sales woke up from a winterlong snooze in April, but shoppers stuck to buying the basics.

That's evident from the handful of chains that on Thursday posted modest but industry-leading comparable-store sales increases: Wal-Mart, 3.5 percent; Sam's Club, 6.6 percent; Costco, 8 percent; BJ's Warehouse, and the discounters Ross, 8 percent; and TJX Cos., which owns TJMaxx and Marshalls, 8 percent.

The teen discount apparel retailer of the moment, Aeropostale, saw same-store sales leap 25 percent.

Virtually all other chains posted minimal gains or continued declines in comparable-store sales — those open more than a year — a widely accepted measure of sales trends.

The UBS-International Council of Shopping Centers same-store sales index was up 3.6 percent after slumping to a 13-year low in March.

Experts who track retail sales cautioned that what looked like a rebound really was more of a head fake.

Thanks to a calendar quirk, April had one more shopping day this year. In cold-weather states, shopping weather was better this time, said Weather Trends International.

The first federal tax rebate checks designed to stimulate consumer spending were hitting bank accounts. ShopperTrak, which measures store traffic, found encouragement that last week was the third straight to post an increase.

"Some rebates might be propping up these results," said Frank Badillo, senior economist at TNS Retail Forward, a retail think tank. "Underneath it all, shoppers felt worse off in April" about their debt, home values and ability to swallow higher gas and food prices.

While consumer spending is about two-thirds of gross domestic product, many surveys show two-thirds of consumers plan to save the rebate cash or use it to pay down credit card debt.

"The gain was mostly small-ticket items," said Richard Hastings, who monitors retailer creditworthiness for Bernard Sands. "After the devastating declines in auto sales, we should expect apparel, footwear and seasonal goods to post occasional upside surprises like this, but that means nothing for big-ticket spending — the stuff that economies are made of."

Cost-saving retailers are up in down times 05/08/08 [Last modified: Friday, May 9, 2008 12:03am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. 'Road to Nowhere' is back: Next phase of Suncoast Parkway coming


    Despite intense public opposition and dubious traffic projections, the Florida Department of Transportation has announced that construction of the toll road known as "Suncoast 2" is expected to start in early 2018.

    The Suncoast Parkway ends at U.S. 98 just south of Citrus County. For years residents have opposed extending the toll road, a project dubbed the "Suncoast 2" into Citrus County. But state officials recently announced that the Suncoast 2 should start construction in early 2018. [Stephen J. Coddington  |  TIMES]
  2. A sports rout on Wall Street


    NEW YORK — Sporting goods retailers can't shake their losing streak.

  3. Grocery chain Aldi hosting hiring event in Brandon Aug. 24


    BRANDON — German grocery chain Aldi is holding a hiring event for its Brandon store Aug. 24. It is looking to fill store associate, shift manager and manager trainee positions.

  4. Lightning owner Jeff Vinik backs film company pursuing global blockbusters


    TAMPA — Jeff Vinik's latest investment might be coming to a theater near you.

    Jeff Vinik, Tampa Bay Lightning owner, invested in a new movie company looking to appeal to a global audience. | [Times file photo]
  5. Trigaux: Look to new Inc. 5000 rankings for Tampa Bay's future heavyweights


    There's a whole lotta fast-growing private companies here in Tampa Bay. Odds are good you have not heard of most of them.


    Kyle Taylor, CEO and founder of The Penny Hoarder, fills a glass for his employees this past Wednesday as the young St. Petersburg personal advice business celebrates its landing at No. 25 on the 2017 Inc. 5000 list of the fastest growing private companies in the country. Taylor, still in his 20s, wins kudos from executive editor Alexis Grant for keeping the firm's culture innovative. The business ranked No. 32 last year. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]