Retail sales make surprising gain in February
Washington, D.C. Retail sales edged up 0.3% in February, surprising economists who had predicted that the month’s major snowstorms would prevent consumers from getting out to shop.
The Commerce Department said Friday that the 0.3% rise in retail sales surpassed expectations that sales would decline by 0.2%.
The overall gain was held back by a 2% decline in auto sales, reflecting in part the recall problems at Toyota. Excluding autos, sales rose 0.8%, far better than the 0.1% rise outside of autos that economists had forecast.
The gains outside of autos were widespread with sales rising at department stores, furniture stores, appliance shops and hardware stores. Restaurants and bars posted a 0.9% gain, their biggest increase in nearly two years.
Economists say they are hoping that businesses, which have shed 8.4 million jobs since the recession began in December 2007, will soon start rehiring laid off workers. That would give households the incomes they need to support spending growth.
Some analysts had suspected that the February retail sales report could offer a surprise on the upside given encouraging news last week from the nation’s big retail chains.
The International Council of Shopping Centers had reported that sales jumped 3.7% in February compared with a year ago, the biggest gain since November 2007, the month before the recession began. That marked the third consecutive increase.
The Commerce report showed that the 0.3% February gain followed a 0.1% rise in January, which had originally been reported as a stronger increase of 0.5%.
The retail sales report Friday showed that sales at general merchandise stores rose by 1% in February after a 1.3% rise in January.
PacSun 4Q comps down 19%
ANAHEIM, Calif. Pacific Sunwear of California announced that total sales for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2009 ended Jan. 30 were $293 million, a decrease of 17% from total sales of $352 million for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2008 ended Jan.31, 2009. Total Company same-store sales decreased 19% during the fourth quarter of fiscal 2009.
For the fourth quarter of fiscal 2009, the company reported a net loss of $36 million, or 56 cents per share, compared with a net loss of $27 million, or 42 centsper share, for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2008.
“When I joined PacSun, given all that we needed to do I knew it would take time to turn things around. Eight months into the job, I’m encouraged by the changes we’re making and the prospects for PacSun to once again become a leader for teens in the mall,” stated Gary Schoenfeld, president and CEO.
Total sales for fiscal 2009 ended Jan. 30 were $1.03 billion, a decrease of 18% from total sales of $1.25 billion during fiscal 2008 ended Jan. 31, 2009. Total company same-store sales decreased 20% during fiscal 2009. For fiscal 2009, the company reported a loss of $70 million, or $1.07 per share, compared with a loss from continuing operations of $39 million, or 59 cents per share, in fiscal 2008.
Pacific Sunwear said it expects to report a GAAP net loss per share of 50 cents to 60 cents for the first quarter of fiscal 2010. The company expects same-store sales to decline in a range of 13% to 18% for the quarter.
Staples B-to-B division launches new Web site
FRAMINGHAM, Mass. Staples announced that its business-to-business division, Staples Advantage, has launched a new Web site (StaplesAdvantage.com) to address customers’ growing demands for supplier consolidation and reduced procurement costs.
The site enables customers to view the full range of Staples Advantage’s products and services, including five newly integrated business-to-business service offerings, the company reported.
The five new services offered include:
“Businesses today are eager to create efficiencies in procurement given reduced human and capital resources,” said Jay Baitler, EVP Staples Advantage. “Our new StaplesAdvantage.com Web site helps our current and potential new customers understand how we can deliver much more than office supplies — to support their supplier consolidation goals and find new opportunities for savings.”