Blog: Leonie BarrieHoliday hopes

Leonie Barrie | 9 November 2010

Sitting between the back-to-school spending rush and the all-important holiday shopping season, it's perhaps not surprising that October sales growth at US retailers came in at just 1.6% - the slowest year-on-year gain since April. That said, many firms managed to put in a positive performance against tougher comparisons with the year-ago period as well as a warm-weather drag on sales of autumn clothing lines.

October's retail sales offer some hope that consumer spending will continue to hold up heading into the key holiday selling period. The most important event in the sales calendar kicks off in just a few weeks on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.

Doubts remain over the future of beleaguered retailer American Apparel after it slid to another loss in the second quarter. The delayed announcement of the results for the three months to 30 June offered little respite for the company, which has been fighting mounting debts in recent months. American Apparel said losses were likely to continue "through at least the third quarter."

Strong growth in football-related revenue helped sporting goods company Adidas to post a 25% increase in third quarter net profit. Comparable retail store sales were up 10% on a currency-neutral basis in the three months to 30 September, but the German-based firm warned that rising input and labour costs, as well as currency volatility, could impact group profitability.

Meanwhile, on the sustainability front, denim giant Levi Strauss has unveiled a new Water Less collection of jeans that cuts the amount of water used in the production process. Hong Kong based Crystal Group, one of Asia's largest garment manufacturers, is well on its way to achieving its five-year environmental targets according to the company's first sustainability report. And shipping company Maersk Line is to provide carbon emissions data, vessel by vessel, in a move that should provide more transparency for customers trying to track the carbon footprint of their supply chains.

And a new government-backed pay deal agreed for the Bangladesh garment industry finally came into force last week, with workers expecting their earnings to increase by up to 75% when they get paid in December. Even though labour rights groups claim the new pay deal falls short of covering basic living costs, they believe it is an important step towards achieving a living wage.


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