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U.S. Jewelry Store Sales -2% to $2B

Retail Sales Excluding Autos Flat in May

Jun 11, 2015 11:59 AM   By Jeff Miller
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RAPAPORT... U.S. specialty jewelry store sales fell 2.4 percent year on year to  $2.221 billion in April, according to government calculations. The decline at specialty stores was more pronounced than for the sector as a whole, as jewelry and watch sales across all channels in April fell only 1.5 percent to $5.427 billion.

Specialty jewelry store sales in the first four months of 2015 have declined 4.7 percent year on year to $8.498 billion. Total jewelry and watch sales in the same period, meanwhile, fell 1.2 percent to $19.018 billion, subject to several revisions.

Advanced sales estimates for May at U.S. department stores continued to slide, falling 3.2 percent year on year to  $13.574 billion. But weak consumer spending also permeated across the retail and food sector -- excluding motor vehicles and auto parts -- as sales were flat at $364.03 billion. Retail trade sales improved 2 percent. Nonstore retail sales rose 6 percent to $37.681 billion.

Lindsey Piegza, the chief economist at Stifel, cited automobile sales as a bright spot for the retail sector, helping to push May's retail sales up 1.2 percent compared with figures in April. However, even with month-to-month improvement in retail sales, "consumer spending has clearly failed to mirror the 2014-style rebound many analysts were hoping for," she wrote in a note to clients.

Piegza stated that retail sales are averaging just 0.1 percent higher since December and only 0.2 percent up over the past 12 months. "Without a strong showing from the consumer, as a consumer-based economy, we can't expect much from the second-quarter growth profile," she said.

If consumer spending remains modest, coupled with ongoing stagnant business investment, it appears many of the slow-growth trends at the start of the year have carried past March. Piegza concluded that if the gross domestic product falls short of  2 percent growth in the second quarter, following the 0.7 percent decline in the first quarter, the U.S. economy is poised for the "worst first-half performance since the Great Recession."

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Tags: consumer, Department store sales, Jeff Miller, jewelry stores, retail sales, spending, stifel
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