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U.S. Jewelry Stores Sales +7% to $2B

Department Store Revenue -5% to $12B

Mar 13, 2014 11:09 AM   By Jeff Miller
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RAPAPORT... U.S. jewelry store sales rose 6.9 percent year on year to $2.113 billion in January, according to government data that was released today. The increase was further strengthened by a 1.7 percent decline in the consumer price index (CPI) for jewelry. 

Jewelry store sales also performed stronger than the jewelry and watch sector as a whole, given that  preliminary data revealed January sales increased only 1.2 percent to $4.72 billion.  (Read more from Rapaport News.)

Meanwhile, advanced sales estimates for U.S. department stores fell 5.2 percent year on year to $11.787 billion in February. However, U.S. retail and food services sales increased 1.5 percent year on year to $427.2 billion in February. Retail trade sales improved 1.3 percent and nonstore retailers experienced  sales growth of 6.3 percent compared with February 2013. jewelry store sales

U.S. retail sales experienced ''no sizable rebound'' for a second consecutive month this year,  according to Lindsey Piegza, the chief economist with Sterne Agee. Overall retail sales for January were actually revised lower, suggesting an even weaker start to the year than previously reported, Piegza wrote in a note to clients.

Excluding the automotive sector,  retail sales have only risen 1.3 percent over the past 12 months, compared with an increase of 5 percent in the previous year. Some weakness in retail sales growth this year was attributed to unfavorable shopping weather in some of the major metropolitan areas during January, but the severity of storms weakened somewhat for February.  ''Certainly a welcomed reprieve in this morning's report, but going forward it is too early to conclude a continued, sizable rebound in spending because of pent-up demand during months of winter storms,'' Piegza wrote. ''Sure, consumers have been somewhat constrained, nobody likes shopping during an ice storm, but consumers were spending elsewhere, particularly on  heightened energy bills with both prices and usage on the rise.''

Piegza added that U.S. consumers, on the whole, have been losing shopping momentum for some time against the backdrop of weak job creation and minimal income growth.

The National Retail Federation (NRF) defined February's retail sales as strong and an  indicator that the U.S. economy is primed for growth.

“Retailers and consumers endured the harsh winter and they’re hoping both the natural and man-made obstacles to growth will leave with the snow,” said NRF's president, Matthew Shay.

“From new overtime mandates to persistent and political posturing on the minimum wage, retailers continue to face serious headwinds placed on them by policymakers in Washington D.C. For the economy to fully recover, the administration and Congress should quit politicking and focus on growth and job creation,” Shay warned.

NRF's chief economist, Jack Kleinhenz, added,  “This month’s retail sales data is encouraging and above expectations. However, neither the jobs nor retail data reflect the fundamental health of the economy. While the weather continues to play tricks on economic forecasts and figures, we expect much-needed clarity come spring as consumers release pent-up demand.”

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Tags: analysts, consumer price inflation, Consumer Spending, Economy, Jeff Miller, Jewelry, NRF, outlook, retail, sales, stern agee, stores
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