Apparel Sales Fall
Sales at apparel and specialty stores and department stores fell in October, in line with a decline in overall retail sales, which could have been impacted by the devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy in the Northeast in late October, according to the U.S. Commerce Department’s monthly retail sales report released on Wednesday. Apparel and specialty stores posted a 0.1 percent seasonally adjusted decrease to $18.8 billion in October compared with September, while sales at department stores fell 0.3 percent to $14 billion last month. Sales at general merchandise stores, a category that includes department stores and discounters showed the only sign of strength with a 0.2 percent increase to $50.7 billion.
In the overall economy, retail sales fell 0.3 percent to $411.6 billion in October. “Even though we cannot isolate the effect [of Sandy], we did receive indications from companies that the hurricane had both positive and negative effects on the retail sales data,” the government said. “Some firms reported a drop in sales due to permanent or temporary store closures and stores having reduced business due to damage, fewer customers and/or lack of employees.”
Black Friday to Become Black Thursday?
As more and more retailers unveil plans to open Thanksgiving Day, it’s being dubbed Black Thursday and has the potential to fire up sales — and stir controversy. NPD chief industry analyst Marshal Cohen said that only 12 percent of consumers take advantage of Black Friday sales, and he estimates that half that number will shop on Black Thursday. “But it’s a very healthy consumer base,” he said. “The early bird gets the proverbial worm. Retailers are saying, ‘I want your wallet when your wallet’s full.’” Stores that opened earlier last year saw sales increase by 22 percent for the Black Friday weekend. “Last year, you had some stores that lost 8 percent if they didn’t extend hours,” Cohen said. “They missed out.”
Retailers operating on Thanksgiving face the backlash of traditionalists who believe the holiday should belong to families, feasts and football. Employees of Target Corp. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. have been vocally opposed to working on Thanksgiving. “This Thanksgiving, while millions of families plan to spend quality time with their loved ones, many Wal-Mart workers have been told we will be stocking shelves and preparing for doors to open at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving night,” Mary Pitt Taft, a Wal-Mart worker in Wisconsin, wrote in a letter that was circulated online. “Some [petitions] were started by family members who fear their loved ones — the employees — won’t make it home for Thanksgiving,” said Janna Pea, an official at the UFCW. “I’m not saying they will definitely be striking on Thanksgiving and Black Friday. The workers are getting more and more frustrated.”
Chanel Gets Scotland-Inspired
Cashmere, wool and fur will be at a premium for the fashion flock come Dec. 4 when Chanel stages its next fashion show — an open-air spectacle at the foot of the 15th-century Linlithgow Palace in West Lothian, just outside of Edinburgh. (Linlithgow means “the loch in the damp hollow.”) Originally the royal palace of the Stuarts and the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots, the palace today lies roofless and ruined, yet still imposing. Karl Lagerfeld, who has illustrated the invitation, depicts sky showing through the upper windows of the structure, though his deluxe pre-fall collection for Chanel — known as the Métiers d’Art for its use of the couture ateliers Chanel owns — will be paraded after nightfall.
Chanel chose Edinburgh because it is home to the tweeds and cashmeres integral to its collections. As reported, Chanel recently acquired the elite cashmere firm Barrie Knitwear, located in Hawick in the Scottish Borders. Meanwhile, Lagerfeld is brushing up on local lore. “I’m studying everything about the history of Scotland,” he said, “because I like to arrive informed.”
– Taneisha Jordan
Source & Photo: WWD