Jobs Better, Retail Sales Still Weak


The jobs report was a little better, retail sales not so good.

Initial claims as reported by the NYT fell from 625,000 to 621,000 while the four-week moving average increased by 4,000 to 631,250. Continuing claims fell by 15,000 to 6.7 million. At least it isn’t getting worse.

Retail sales for May are shaping up to be pretty weak. Consumers aren’t parting willingly with what little money they do have.

From the WSJ Real Time Economics Blog, here’s a chart of those retailers that have reported sales (Sorry about the bad formatting but the info is still valid):


Company name Category Same-store
sales change
sales change
sales (millions)
Abercrombie & Fitch Apparel -28% -22% $182.1 Year-to-date the company’s sales are down 23% compared to last year, as the retailer continues to struggle amid the economic downturn. Sales fell more than 25% across all brands.
Aeropostale Apparel 19% 30% $132.9 The company continues to buck the weakness in the retail sector, saying margins for the month increased over last year.
BJ’s Discount 4% -4.7% $783.4 “Traffic continued strong, increasing by 5% over last year,” CEO Laura Sen said. Overall, May sales results reflected continued strength in food and consumables, televisions and computer equipment, partly offset by ongoing softness in discretionary departments such as apparel, jewelry and sporting goods, and a slightly increased impact from price deflation in certain areas of perishable foods.” (Same-store sales change excludes gasoline.)
Buckle Apparel 13.4% 19.2% $60.6 The teen-apparel retailer has now posted positive comparable store sales for 33 months in a row.
Costco Discount -1% -5% $5,470 Strongest results were seen in the Northeast and Midwest. Food and sundries continued to be the strongest categories, as discretionary categories post sales declines. Electronics, for example, posted increases in numbers of sales but price deflation pushes revenue lower from a year earlier. (Same-store sales change is for U.S. and excludes gasoline.)
Gap Apparel -6% -5% $1,030 The lower-cost Old Navy stores managed to eke out a 3% gain in sales from a year earlier. The flagship Gap stores and Banana Republic didn’t fare as well, seeing same-store sales drop 11% and 14%, respectively.
Hot Topic Apparel -6.4% -2.9% $46 The young-adult retailer’s year-to-date sales are 7.2% higher than a year earlier, has profited from selling gear connected to the teenage vampire movie “Twilight.” However, the earlier sales gains are turning into declines.
J.C. Penney Department -8.2% -6.7% $1,254 The company expects a June sales decline of 9%-12%. The top performing merchandise division in May was women’s, as fine jewelry experienced the weakest sales. Geographically, the best performing region of the country was the Southwest, while the Southeast region experienced the weakest results.
Limited Brands Apparel -7% -6% $618.7 The parent of Victoria’s Secret said sales at those stores dropped 10% in the month, despite Mother’s Day sales. Meanwhile, Bath & Body Works posted a 1% decrease. The company said margins were lower.
Macy’s Department -9.1% -9.5% $1,743 Despite a 9.5% year-to-date drop in total sales, performance is in line with the company’s low expectations. Web sales provided a small bright spot. Online sales ( and combined) were up by 12.2% in May.
Neiman Marcus Luxury -23.3% -21.5% $246 The company continued to experience weakness across all regions and merchandise categories, especially at its Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman stores. Drops were less steep in its Neiman Marcus Direct business.
Nordstrom Luxury -13.1% -8.7% $653 The luxury retailer continues to suffer amid the economic downturn. The South, Mid-Atlantic and Midwest regions were the company’s best. Coats and dresses were the top merchandise categories.
Ross Stores Apparel 4% 10% $564 The discount apparel retailer continues to benefit from shoppers looking for bargains. Dresses and shoes were the best performing merchandise categories, and the company cited favorable weather effects for the month.
Saks Luxury -26.6% -25.8% $166.1 All merchandise categories posted a decline. The company said a sales boost from the shift of a clearance event into May from April last year was more than offset by the shift of a designer sale event into June this year from May last year.
Target Department -6.1% -2.3% $4,458 The company said sales were below expectations. Music, movies, books were the weakest categories, while home and apparel sales posted declines. The only strength was recorded in nondiscretionary categories, such as health care.
Zumiez Apparel -20.7% -9.6% $26.0 All departments posted a decline from a year earlier, as average transaction size also declined.
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