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U.S. Jewelry Store Sales +11% to $3B

Department Store Sales Drop in December

Jan 14, 2014 11:42 AM   By Jeff Miller
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RAPAPORT... U.S. jewelry store sales jumped 11.2 percent year on year in November to $3.008 billion, according to the latest government calculations. Meanwhile, the U.S. consumer price index (CPI) for jewelry during the month was flat. Jewelry store sales for the first 11 months of 2013 have risen 9.6 percent to $27.467 billion. As reported earlier by Rapaport News, jewelry sales from all retail channels in November improved 9.1 percent, while sales of watches increased 11.3 percent. December jewelry sale figures will be out later this month.

Nonetheless, as jewelry store sales performed strongly leading into Christmas, advanced sales estimates for department stores in December fell 3.3 percent year on year to $24.647 billion. Weaker sales during the month followed a 4.3 percent drop in November when department store sales reached $17.5 billion. Sales at department stores for the full year declined 4.7 percent to $174.7 billion. retail sales nrf sterne 

Sterne Agee's chief economist, Lindsey Piegza, called December's retail sales disappointing. Fourth-quarter sales were uneven at best, falling short of expectations and December sales in particular, while weaker-than-expected, were a reflection of lackluster auto sales, Piegza wrote in a note to clients.

November headline sales, on the other hand, were supported by a month of robust auto purchases amid a tepid pace of discretionary purchases. ''Any way you slice it, headline sales, headline sales excluding autos or headline sales ex-autos and gasoline rose just 0.4 percent to 0.5 percent on average throughout the final quarter of the year compared to a 0.2 percent to 0.4 percent pace in the third quarter, hardly the gangbuster level anticipated to keep upward momentum in GDP from the third quarter's impressive pace,'' Piegza wrote.

In its own monthly assessment,  the National Retail Federation (NRF) estimated that total retail sales in December, excluding automobiles, gas stations and restaurants, increased 4.6 percent year on year. For the Christmas season, which the NRF defined as running  from November 1 through December 31, retail sales increased 3.8 percent to $601.8 billion, which was in line with the group's projected growth forecast of 3.9 percent. Non-store Christmas sales improved 9.3 percent to $95.7 billion, according to the NRF.

“Despite facing a truncated holiday season, severe weather and shaky consumer confidence, retailers rose to the challenge and executed their strategies with proven success,” said NRF's president, Matthew Shay. “Today’s holiday sales numbers are a testament to a resilient industry that knows what their customers want, when they want it and how they want to get it. Considering that retail sales are an important barometer when measuring the overall health of our national economy, this report provides a level of true optimism that the recovery is picking up steam, and once again, retail leads the way.”

NRF's chief economist, Jack Kleinhenz, said, “Solid job growth in the months of October and November led to a more-confident consumer and healthy holiday shopping season for many retailers. While economic and policy uncertainties remain, the economy seems set for steady growth in the New Year.”

“Undoubtedly, some of the increase came at the expense of margin. Retailers are still stressed and a long-term promotional environment may actually hurt the bottom line,” said Kleinhenz.  “As consumer confidence grows, there will be less need for retailers to heavily promote and discount their offerings.”

The NRF determined that strong sales increases --growth above 4 percent--  were observed for building materials and garden equipment,  clothing and clothing accessories, furniture and home furnishings, sporting goods and for health and personal care items. Retail sales of electronics and appliances rose only 1.5 percent, while general merchandise store sales were flat.


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Tags: december, department stores, holiday, Jeff Miller, jewelry store sales, NRF, retail, watches
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