Thursday, April 11, 2013

Thursday Retail News & Notes: A Chilly Start to Spring

A combination of higher payroll taxes, delayed tax returns and unseasonably cool weather has made for a chilly start to spring for many American retailers.

Gap won't report March sales results until after the close, but consolidated sales for the 12 non-drug store chains that have reported (see graphic below) posted just a 2.5% rise in same-store sales for March, which was the lowest since August 2009.

Weather was certainly a factor, as Weather Trends International said last month "was the coldest March in the U.S. in 17 years, with the most snowfall in 20 years." The early Easter, which fell a week earlier than last year and three weeks earlier than in 2011, was expected to lift sales 1-2% point but provided little lift as wintry weather held back sales of spring apparel and seasonal merchandise.

Because of the Easter shift every year, the combined March-April period always provides a much better barometer of business. In addition, with so many chains dropping out of the ranks of monthly sales reporting, these reports don't necessarily paint an accurate picture of the overall industry.

However, tomorrow morning the Department of Commerce will release national retail sales figures for March, which will provide a much broader view of consumer spending across a variety of retail sectors.

Tuesday's Reading List:
  • American Families Increasingly Let Kids Make Buying Decisions (Time)
  • Tied to the Mall, J.C. Penney and Macy's Need Each Other (Businessweek)
  • How companies can make their loyalty programs more effective (McKinsey & Co)
  • Walmart exec says biggest mobile opportunity is connecting with in-store customers (Mobile Commerce Daily)
  • Americans Love Amazon, But Going to the Store Still Matters Most (Wired)
  • Why Fab proves that social media sells (The Guardian)
  • PayPal hopes to break shoppers' swipe habit in stores (Reuters)
  • Bloomingdale's Installs Body Scanners to Help You Find Jeans That Fit (Mashable)
  • PC Shipments Post the Steepest Decline Ever in a Single Quarter (IDC) and Worldwide PC Shipments Drop to Lowest Levels Since Second Quarter of 2009 (Gartner)
  • How Walmart Wants Brands to Fuel Its Content Engine (AdAge)
  • Rich People Are Less Loyal to Specific Brands (Adweek)
  • Ron Johnson’s failed experiment in honest pricing (Marketwatch)
  • How to build a better seamless retail customer strategy (Accenture)
  • Pandora For Pants: Are Personal Shopping Services The Future Of Retail? (FastCo)
  • Facebook uses offline purchases to target ads (CNN Money)
  • How Goldman's dollar-store bet reaped a fortune (Fox Business)
  • Video: Warby Parker Makes Big Bet on Bricks & Mortar (CNBC)

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