Make us your home page
Instagram

Retailers see rise in spring sales

NEW YORK — Retailers from discounter Target to department store chain Macy's reported better-than-expected sales in March, in the latest sign that Americans are feeling better about the economy.

A combination of warm weather and high demand for spring fashions boosted revenue for the month, but analysts say there's much more than higher temperatures at play: Americans who cut back on spending in the slow economic recovery are encouraged by the improving job market.

"There's a growing belief we reached bottom a while ago," said Joel Bines, managing director of the retail practice of AlixPartners. "Rather than confidence that things have turned the corner, it's confidence that things are unlikely to get worse from here."

Overall, revenue at stores open at least one year — an indicator of a retailer's health because it excludes results from stores that opened and closed during the year — rose 4.1 percent, according to a preliminary tally of 22 retailers by the International Council of Shopping Centers.

The strong sales reports were boosted by unseasonably mild weather and a flurry of positive economic news. The housing market had its best winter in five years. Consumer confidence was relatively flat in March, but near February's 12-month high. And on Friday a government report on March job growth is expected to show the fourth straight month of strong hiring.

"Not only did we have nice weather, we've also taken a bit of a breather from the shocking economic news that we have had," said Laura Gurski, a partner and global head of A.T. Kearney's retail practice. "There's a calming down or feeling that the economy is settling in and starting to trend more positive from an American standpoint."

Clothing chains, in particular, benefited from heavy demand for spring fashions, like brightly colored denim. "Stores are showing something new and different from a fashion perspective and that's getting people into the stores," said Alison Levy, senior manager at consulting firm Kurt Salmon.

Macy's, which owns the Macy's and Bloomingdale's department chains, continued its strong monthly performance, reporting that revenue figure rose 7.3 percent, which beat analysts' expectations of a 4.8 percent rise.

Even Gap, which had been struggling recently, reported gains. In fact, the retailer, which owns Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic, was one of the biggest success stories of the month. Revenue in stores open at least one year rose 8 percent, better than the 5.4 percent rise analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected.

While March revenue figures are encouraging, analysts caution that retailers should not count their eggs before they hatch.

After all, gas prices — hovering around $4 — continue to weigh on consumers and that hurts stores that cater to lower-end shoppers. Analysts also say a more accurate picture of Americans' spending will emerge after April since an earlier Easter holiday this year likely pushed some sales into March.

Retailers see rise in spring sales 04/05/12 [Last modified: Thursday, April 5, 2012 9:37pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rick Scott appoints 'my friend,' Jimmy Patronis, as Florida CFO

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott on Monday appointed a long-time friend and political supporter, Jimmy Patronis, to replace Jeff Atwater as Florida's next chief financial officer, making him one of three members of the Cabinet that sets state policy on a wide range of issues. He'll take over Friday.

    Rick Scott appoints Jimmy Patronis (background) as CFO. [STEVE BOUSQUET | Tampa Bay Times]
  2. Local gas prices plummet as Fourth of July holiday travel approaches

    Tourism

    TAMPA — Local gas prices are enjoying an unseasonal dip around the $2 mark just in time for the hectic Fourth of July holiday travel weekend.

    The price of regular unleaded gasoline has dropped to $1.99 at a Rally station on Pasadena Ave. South and Gulfport Boulevard South, South Pasadena.
[SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

  3. Air bag recalls, lawsuits lead Takata to file for bankruptcy

    Autos

    Shattered by recall costs and lawsuits, Japanese air bag maker Takata Corp. filed Monday for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo and the U.S., saying it was the only way it could keep on supplying replacements for faulty air bag inflators linked to the deaths of at least 16 people.

    Japanese air bag maker Takata Corp. CEO Shigehisa Takada bows during a press conference in Tokyo on Monday. Takata has filed for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo and the U.S., overwhelmed by lawsuits and recall costs related to its production of defective air bag inflators.
[(AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi]
  4. Airbag maker Takata bankruptcy filing expected in Japan, U.S.

    Corporate

    DETROIT — Japanese airbag maker Takata Corp. has filed for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo and the U.S., overwhelmed by lawsuits and recall costs related to its production of faulty air bag inflators.

  5. Federal agencies demand records from SeaWorld theme park

    Tourism

    ORLANDO — Two federal agencies are reportedly demanding financial records from SeaWorld.

    Killer whales Ikaika and Corky participate in behaviors commonly done in the wild during SeaWorld's Killer Whale educational presentation in this photo from Jan. 9. SeaWorld has been subpoenaed by two federal agencies for comments that executives and the company made in August 2014 about the impact from the "Blackfish" documentary. 
[Nelvin C. Cepeda/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS]