Consumer confidence falls in June
New York City The Conference Board said Tuesday that its Consumer Confidence Index dropped almost 10 points to 52.9, down from the revised 62.7 in May. Economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters had been expecting 62.8 for June.
The reading marked the biggest drop since February, when the index fell 10 points. The index had risen for three straight months since then.
Both components of the index — one that measures how consumers feel now about the economy, the other that assesses their outlook over the next six months — dropped. The Present Situation Index decreased to 25.5 in June from 29.8 in May. The Expectations Index declined to 71.2 from 84.6.
“Increasing uncertainty and apprehension about the future state of the economy and labor market, no doubt a result of the recent slowdown in job growth, are the primary reasons for the sharp reversal in confidence,” said Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board Consumer Research Center, in a statement. “Until the pace of job growth picks up, consumer confidence is not likely to pick up.”
The survey showed that consumers’ assessment of the labor market was less than favorable. Those claiming jobs are “hard to get” increased to 44.8% from 43.9%, while those saying jobs are “plentiful” decreased to 4.3% from 4.6%. Consumers polled were also much less optimistic about future job prospects.
Home goods looking good, for some
The success one retailer has in a given category can oftentimes be an indicator of a rising tide lifting all boats, which is why results last week from Bed Bath & Beyond are of particular interest to Target. The home goods specialist said first-quarter sales for the period ended May 29 increased 13.5% to $1.9 billion and same-store sales increased 8.4%. Earnings per share surged 53% to 52 cents a share.
Target is a major player in the home category, and last year it said the home furnishings and decor category accounted for 19% of total sales of $63.4 billion. As defined by Target, the category includes furniture, lighting, kitchenware, small appliances, home decor, bed and bath, home improvement, automotive and such seasonal merchandise sas patio furniture and holiday decor.
A strong performance by Bed Bath & Beyond is either an indication that the overall category is looking up, despite some significant ongoing difficulties in the housing market, or simply an example of a well-positioned superior operator gaining share from competitors, one of whom is possibly Target. The company has certainly had mixed things to say about the home category during the three month period that overlaps with Bed Bath & Beyond’s first quarter. For example, In May, comps in home were down slightly with a low single digit increase in the decorative home category and softness in housewares. In April, comps were moderately better than the total company decline of 5.9% and were led by a low single digit increase in the decorative home category with the softest performance in seasonal categories. In March, comps in home increased in the mid-to-upper single-digit range with the strongest results in the seasonal categories and weaker performance in housewares.
Former Ace director dies at 89
Gregg Ziegler, the past director and vice chairman of Ace Hardware Corp.’s board of directors, was laid to rest last week. He was 89.
The World War II veteran joined the family business, Ziegler’s Ace Hardware, after graduating from college in 1947. He was the recipient of the 1983 Illinois Retail Merchants Association’s Retailer of the Year. Today, Ziegler’s Ace operates 11 locations in Illinois.
According to his obituary in the Chicago Tribune, Ziegler was also an accomplished driver who set the NASCAR record for the Flying Mile event at Daytona Beach in 1960.