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. Last steel beam marks construction milestone for Tom and Mary James' museum


    ST. PETERSBURG — Tom and Mary James on Wednesday signed their names to the last steel beam framing the 105-ton stone mesa that will be built at the entrance of the museum that bears their name: the James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art.

    The topping-out ceremony of the James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art was held Wednesday morning in downtown St. Petersburg. Mary James (from left), husband Tom and Mayor Rick Kriseman signed the final beam before it was put into place. When finished, the $55 million museum at 100 Central Ave. will hold up to 500 pieces of the couple's 3,000-piece art collection. [Courtesy of James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art]
  2. Heights Public Market to host two Tampa Bay food trucks


    TAMPA — The Heights Public Market announced the first two food trucks for its "rotating stall," which will feature new restaurants every four months. Surf and Turf and Empamamas will be rolled out first.

    Heights Public Market is opening this summer inside the Tampa Armature Works building.
[SKIP O'ROURKE   |   Times file photo]

  3. Author Randy Wayne White could open St. Pete's biggest restaurant on the pier

    Food & Dining

    ST. PETERSBURG — The story begins with Yucatan shrimp.

    St. Petersburg Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin, pilot Mark Futch, Boca Grande, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, and author and businessman Randy Wayne White,  Sanibel, exit a Maule Super Rocket seaplane after taking a fight around Tampa Bay off the St. Petersburg waterfront, 6/28/17.  White and his business partners are in negotiations with the City of St. Petersburg to build a fourth Doc Ford's Rum Bar & Grille on the approach to the St. Petersburg Pier with a second event space on the pier according to White. The group met near Spa Beach after a ground breaking ceremony for the new pier. "We want to have our business open by the time the pier opens," said White. Other Dr. Ford restaurants are located on Sanibel, Captiva and Ft. Myers Beach. SCOTT KEELER   |   Times
  4. Guilty plea for WellCare Health Plans former counsel Thaddeus Bereday


    Former WellCare Health Plans general counsel Thaddeus M.S. Bereday pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement to the Florida Medicaid program, and faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set, acting U.S. Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow of the Middle District …

    WellCare Health Plans former general counsel Thaddeus M.S. Bereday, pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement to the Florida Medicaid program, and faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set, acting U.S. Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow of the Middle District of Florida stated Wednesday. [LinkedIn handout]
  5. DOT shows alternatives to former Tampa Bay Express toll lanes


    TAMPA — State transportation officials are evaluating at least a half-dozen alternatives to the controversial Tampa Bay interstate plan that they will workshop with the community over the next 18 months.

    Florida Department of Transportation consultant Brad Flom explains potential alternatives to adding toll lanes to Interstate 275 during a meeting Wednesday at the DOT’s Tampa office. Flom presented seven diagrams, all of which swapped toll lanes for transit, such as light rail or express bus, in the I-275 corridor from downtown Tampa to Bearss Avenue.