Blog: US retail slide slows in August

Joe Ayling | 7 September 2009

Fears that back-to-school revenues might fail the apparel and footwear sector this year were somewhat allayed by better-than-expected August retail sales announcements last week.

Although sales increases were few and far between during August, retailers managed to slow the pace of monthly sales declines that have plagued the year so far.

Prior to Thursday's results, the National Retail Federation (NRF) predicted that back-to-school spending would slump 7.7% for the July to September period.

However, with Labour Day pushed into September and competition for consumer spend from the "cash for clunkers" automotive programme rife, it seems the class of 2009 deserves some credit.

A better-than expected August brings some hope that after 12 consecutive monthly sales declines the US economy is showing signs of stabilising. If so, the leaner inventory positions many have worked so hard to achieve would be short-lived.

Nevertheless, only a small minority of fashion retailers, including Aeropostale, Ross Stores and The TJX Companies, managed to actually increase sales revenue when compared to August 2008.

All three likely benefited from their affordability, while more upmarket operators including Saks Incorporated and Abercrombie & Fitch suffered most during the month.

As the NRF noted last week, the focus for US shoppers is primarily on price, explaining why strong promotions and deep discounts were 'best in class' during August.

By Joe Ayling, news editor.


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