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Upbeat Consumers Boost U.S. Retailers

Posted on  | April 6, 2012   Bookmark and Share
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An improving jobs market and unusually warm weather helped to lift US retail sales in March by nearly 4%, beating Wall Street expectations and continuing a run of positive months.

Sales at stores open at least a year rose 3.9% at the 20 or so at the retailers that report monthly figures, according to Retail Metrics, revealing little evidence of higher petrol prices crimping spending.

“In general, there was real strength across the retail sector, across all parts of the value chain from luxury down to deep discounters,” said Joel Bines, a retail analyst at AlixPartners.

Warm weather encouraged people to continue early spring clothes shopping, a trend that began in February.

“Those [retailers] who missed [expectations] missed because of product and price, not because the consumer was not out shopping,” said Mr Bines.

Gap, the clothes retailer, reported a second consecutive month of rising sales: at Gap-branded stores in North America they were up 9% following a 1% gain in February, when it started selling clothes from a new creative team.

At TJX and Ross Stores, two leading discounters of clothes and household wares, sales rose 10 per cent from a year ago.

At Target, the mass-market discounter, sales rose 7.3% and Macy’s, a department store, also reported a 7.3%  increase.

Mr Bines said clothes retailers could also claim credit for rolling out an attractive set of spring fashions.

“Walking into the typical mall is like walking into a tulip garden. There is so much colour and freshness that it is really remarkable. It’s really resonating with the consumer,” he said.

Source: FT

By Barney Jopson, New York

April 5th


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