Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Business

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.

Comments
Demolition looms for old Bromley office building at Midtown Tampa

Demolition looms for old Bromley office building at Midtown Tampa

TAMPA — Over the past month, demolition crews have gutted the old five-story Bromley office building at the future site of the $500 million Midtown Tampa project.On Sunday, the remaining skeleton of the building is scheduled to come down.The demoliti...
Updated: 8 minutes ago
What historically high lumber prices mean for Florida home buyers

What historically high lumber prices mean for Florida home buyers

Blame a lack of rail cars in Canada or not enough semi trucks in the United States. Forest fires didn’t help. Tariffs played a big role, too. Even the buoyant economy takes part of the rap for frothy lumber prices, which hit all-time highs las...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Citizens considers hiking homeowners insurance rates about 8 percent

Citizens considers hiking homeowners insurance rates about 8 percent

For the second year in a row, Citizens Property Insurance Corp. is asking state regulators to approve hefty rate hikes because of an abundance of non-weather claims that end up in court. If approved, the average rates for homeowners covered by Citize...
Updated: 4 hours ago
What historically high lumber prices mean for Florida home buyers

What historically high lumber prices mean for Florida home buyers

Blame a lack of rail cars in Canada or not enough semi trucks in the United States. Forest fires didn’t help. Tariffs played a big role, too. Even the buoyant economy takes part of the rap for frothy lumber prices, which hit all-time highs las...
Updated: 4 hours ago
A valet at this South Tampa Publix will park your car as you shop

A valet at this South Tampa Publix will park your car as you shop

TAMPA — Publix shoppers in South Tampa who hate circling the lot for parking can now toss their keys to a valet.The Publix at Dale Mabry and Neptune started testing a free valet service last week that could expand to more stores. Spokesman Brian West...
Updated: 4 hours ago
As Tesla races to meet Model 3 deadline, factory pressures and suspicions grow

As Tesla races to meet Model 3 deadline, factory pressures and suspicions grow

Tesla chief Elon Musk said last week that the company’s layoffs of 9 percent of its workforce wouldn’t affect production as the all-electric automaker races to build thousands of new Model 3 sedans a week.But documents the company filed days later wi...
Published: 06/19/18
Tech Data sending a record 700 employees to march in Pride Parade

Tech Data sending a record 700 employees to march in Pride Parade

Among the marching bands and twirlers at Saturday’s St. Pete Pride Parade, one major sponsor, Tech Data, is sending by far a record number of employees — more than 700 at last count — to march in Florida’s largest gay pride parade.The parade, which d...
Published: 06/19/18
Sign to report employees not speaking English at doughnut shop creates a stir

Sign to report employees not speaking English at doughnut shop creates a stir

A sign asking customers at a Dunkin’ Donuts store in Baltimore to report employees who were heard not speaking English has set off a controversy.The sign, according tothe Baltimore Sun, would offer coupons to customers who reported workers at a dough...
Published: 06/19/18
Florida Bankers Association recognizes Bill Klich with award

Florida Bankers Association recognizes Bill Klich with award

Former Tampa Bay banking executive Bill Klich was presented the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Florida Bankers Association last week at an annual meeting in Palm Coast.Klich, 73, has a strong reputation with more than four decades of commercial ...
Published: 06/19/18
Jeff Vinik-backed construction material firm headed to Port Tampa Bay

Jeff Vinik-backed construction material firm headed to Port Tampa Bay

TAMPA — With $3 billion in construction on the boards, Water Street Tampa will need a lot of concrete, so a company whose largest investor is Jeff Vinik is moving to Port Tampa Bay to begin importing fly ash, a component of concrete.Spartan Materials...
Published: 06/19/18