Insights

Expert Analysis: July Retail Sales

BY CSA STAFF

Sterne Agee chief economist Lindsey M. Piegza comments on July retail sales gain of 0.2%:

Headline retail sales rose 0.2% in July, slightly less than expected but last month’s sales were revised up two-tenths from 0.4% to 0.6%. This is the fourth consecutive monthly increase in retail sales. Excluding autos, retail sales rose 0.5%, the strongest monthly gain since February.

Gasoline station sales rose 0.9% in July after a 0.6% increase the month prior. Year-over-year gasoline station sales are up 5.3% NSA. Excluding gasoline purchases, retail sales are up just 0.1% for the month, down from +0.6% in June. On a three month annualized basis, sales less gasoline are up 5.6%, little changed from a 5.5% pace at the end of the second quarter.

Auto purchases fell 1.0% after an impressive near 3% increase in June. Year-over-year auto sales are up 15% NSA. Excluding autos and gas, retail sales rose 0.4% in July after no change in June (+0.03%). On a three-month annualized basis, core sales rose 2.9% in July, down from a 3.3% pace in June.

Further details: Food and beverage sales rose 0.8% in July, and health and personal care purchases increased 0.7%, both more than tripling last month’s increase. Clothing purchases rose 0.9% after no change in June, sporting goods sales rose 1.0%, and general merchandise sales increased 0.4% thanks in part to a 0.6% gain in department store purchases after several consecutive months of declines. Miscellaneous sales rose 0.8% after falling 1.6% the month prior, non-store retailers rose 0.1%, and eating and drinking retailer’s sales increased 0.6% in July.

Furniture purchases dropped 1.4% after a 2.5% rise, electronics sales dropped one-tenth and building materials sales fell 0.4% in July, the second consecutive monthly decline. Excluding autos and building materials, sales are up 0.5% for the month.

Bottom line: Consumers continued to spend through the first quarter despite onerous tax increases. But by the second quarter, while consumers were still spending, momentum had slowed. Many will argue at this point it is clear the burden of higher taxes and spending cuts have run their course. But the effects of tax increases often take time to filter into consumers’ long-run spending patterns, and with government furloughs taking effect coupled with modest employment gains and minimal income growth, there is plenty of cause for caution. While positive, this morning’s retail sales report was far from robust, and not yet enough to eradicate fears of a consumer slowdown undermining growth in the second half of the year.


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Kohl’s makes donation to Milwaukee Art Museum

BY CSA STAFF

MENOMONEE FALLS, Wis. — Kohl’s Department Stores has donated $2 million throughout a three-year period to the Milwaukee Art Museum to continue the Kohl’s Art Generation program, a youth art education initiative.

The funding will support two Kohl’s Art Generation exhibitions and the unveiling of a Kohl’s Art Generation Lab in 2015. The donation comes from the Kohl’s Cares cause merchandise program, which sells special merchandise, including plush toys and books, and donates 100% of the net profit to benefit children’s health and education initiatives nationwide.

“Kohl’s is proud to continue our partnership with the Milwaukee Art Museum and facilitate new, exciting offerings for the Kohl’s Art Generation program,” said Michelle Gass, Kohl’s chief customer officer. “We are pleased to share in the commitment of enhancing education and enriching the lives of area children and families through art and creativity.”

The Kohl’s Art Generation program consists of four main components:
• The Kohl’s Art Generation Studio is a hands-on art studio that features a variety of art activities, with new projects each month. Children and families can choose to stop in for a few minutes or spend an entire day creating art together. The studio is open to the public from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
• The Kohl’s Art Generation Gallery is a kid-friendly space that educates children on the fundamentals of art. The current exhibition, “Animation: Art Goes to the Movies,” explores how animators of today’s most popular movies draw inspiration from historical works of art. Two new exhibits will debut in the Gallery in October 2013 and September 2015. The gallery is open during regular museum hours.
• The Kohl’s Art Generation Lab is a place for kids and families to explore what happens behind the scenes at an art museum. Visitors are able to X-ray a painting, change the frames on works of art, ask the museum curators about their career and the exhibitions. Through the new funding, the lab will be updated with new programming and engagement elements in 2015. The lab is open during regular museum hours.
• Kohl’s Color Wheels is a mobile art experience that is an extension of the Kohl’s Art Generation program and Milwaukee Art Museum. The mobile unit brings creativity and ingenuity into the community by visiting festivals, schools and other events throughout the year. Kids and families work on fun projects and grow and learn through art.

“The Kohl’s Art Generation program has become the cornerstone of artistic inspiration for families who visit the Milwaukee Art Museum, thanks to Kohl’s Cares long-standing generosity,” said Brigid Globensky, Milwaukee Art Museum senior director of education and public programs. “We are thrilled to continue our partnership with Kohl’s Cares and provide a fun and interactive art curriculum at a time when creativity is increasingly important to our community’s future success.”

The Kohl’s Art Generation program was created in 2008 with the goal of delivering quality art education to Milwaukee-area families. Before the partnership with Kohl’s, the Milwaukee Art Museum served about 9,000 member families. Since then, the program has seen tremendous growth and now reaches more than 300,000 participants annually.

The program is one example of Kohl’s community giving. Since 2000, Kohl’s Department Stores, together with Kohl’s Cares, have combined to give more than $62 million to support charitable initiatives in the metro-Milwaukee area, including $6.3 million to the Milwaukee Art Museum. To date, the Kohl’s Cares cause merchandise program has raised more than $231 million for children’s initiatives nationwide.

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Omnichannel expert joins Kurt Salmon practice

BY CSA STAFF

Robert Howard is the newest partner in the Retail and Consumer Products Group at management consulting firm Kurt Salmon.

Howard was characterized as an omnichannel expert in the press release announcing his appointment. He spent more than 20 years delivering online and in-store retail customer experience solutions and has consulted with some of the world’s largest and best-known companies across the United States and Western Europe, according to Kurt Salmon. Howard has worked with Home Depot, McDonald’s and FedEx Office, and is the author of 7 Steps to Customer Experience Domination and co-author of The Customer Experience Fiasco.

"The retail industry is undergoing a renaissance as a result of the opportunities presented by omnichannel," Howard said. "At Kurt Salmon, I look forward to helping retailers compete and grow by merging the in-store experience with the digital experience in order to engage the customer in new and exciting ways."

Howard joins Kurt Salmon from retail research firm Service Management Group, where in his role as senior vice president he managed the design and delivery of customer analysis and insights for nearly 100 retail clients. Prior to SMG, Howard founded ClearBrick LLC, a provider of digital customer experience solutions including omnichannel enterprise transformation. Previously, he also served as a principal with Deloitte Consulting, where he led the early development of what would become Deloitte’s omnichannel practice, which managed multichannel and retail technology engagements and developed omnichannel-based solution frameworks.

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