Retail sales continue rebound with 0.3% rise in May
Washington, D.C. — Consumer spending rose 0.3% in May, marking four consecutive months of rising U.S. retail sales.
The Commerce Department reported Thursday that May results were boosted by strength from the auto sector, which recorded a 1.4% sales increase during the month. U.S. retail sales rose 0.5% in April and 1.5% in March.
The four-month revival in spending — following a dismal January hurt by nasty weather — has prompted economists to predict a solid rebound to 3% growth or better in the current April-June quarter.
Sectors outside of autos didn’t fare quite as well in May. Sales at hardware stores and furniture stores increased, but department store sales fell 1.4%. A broader category that includes department stores and big-box stores saw sales fall 0.6%. Sales were also down at specialty clothing stores and electronics stores but posted a solid gain of 0.6% in the category that includes online shopping.
Analysts expect overall economic growth to remain at a solid 3% level in the second half of the year.
Arby’s to launch nationwide remodeling program
Atlanta — Arby’s Restaurant Group, Inc. announced plans to launch a major remodeling program across its nationwide network of nearly 3,400 Arby’s quick-service sandwich restaurants.
The turnkey revitalization initiative includes a new building image, team member re-training program and franchisee remodel financing solution.
"We continue to make tremendous progress against our multi-year program to reinvigorate the Arby’s brand," said Paul Brown, CEO, Arby’s Restaurant Group, Inc. "The release of the new Inspire remodel image and corresponding revitalization initiative is an important step in the journey. As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Arby’s brand this year, initiatives like these will ensure we’re well positioned for our next 50 years of growth."
After testing various design alternatives in 2013 and early 2014, Arby’s is now planning to remodel at least 30 company-owned restaurants to the new Inspire image this year in key markets, including: Huntsville, Alabama; Indianapolis, Indiana; Youngstown, Ohio and Salt Lake City, Utah. Architectural plans were released to franchisees in June of this year. The company plans to significantly expand the number of remodels in 2015.
The ongoing effort to provide a new look for Arby’s restaurants ties in to the brand’s plan to debut a new positioning and creative campaign later this summer. All updates to the restaurant interior and exterior, such as a new color palette, geometric shapes and elements, renewed materials and subway tiling, are designed to allow patrons to fully experience the revised and reinvigorated Brand look and feel.
Designed as a "kit-of-parts" approach, exterior enhancements include: cantilevered red awnings at the primary touch points (drive-thru, entranceway), new internally illuminated signage, wood tones, white brick, enhanced lighting and upgraded landscaping around the restaurant.
Interior enhancements include: a color palette that ties to the brand colors using updated, fresh materials, subway tiling and stainless steel in the kitchen area, multicolor wood materials, modern lighting and chalkboard graphics.
Additionally, the brand revitalization effort includes a half-day, offsite Brand Camp session for all restaurant team members.
Lululemon Q1 plunges; CFO to retire
Lululemon Athletica Inc.’s first-quarter net income plunged 60%, impacted by a one-time tax adjustment. Although its adjusted profit and revenue beat Wall Street’s expectations for the quarter, the retailer lowered its full-year earnings forecast.
Lululemon said that CFO John Currie plans to retire by the end of its fiscal year (February 2015).
Lululemon earned $19 million for the period ended May4, down from $47.3 million in the year ago period. The quarter had a tax expense of $52.5 million, which included a non-recurring adjustment of $30.9 million for the planned repatriation of foreign earnings that will be used to fund a buyback program.
Revenue increased 11% to $384.6 million from $345.8 million. Same-store sales inched up 1%.
The earnings report came a day after Lululemon founder Chip Wilson said that he voted against the re-election of outside directors Michael Casey and RoAnn Costin. Wilson, saying that he believes board changes are needed to help increase shareholder value.