(The following statement was released by the rating agency)
CHICAGO, May 01 (Fitch) Fitch Ratings has published its U.S.
Quarterly for the fourth quarter of 2012. The report provides an
overview of key
economic data, operating and credit trends in the U.S. retail
industry, and a
summary of individual companies' operating and credit metrics
for retailers on
which Fitch maintains public ratings, private credit opinions,
as well as some
select non-rated names. In addition, the report highlights key
and concerns and provides a summary of company liquidity
positions for the
latest reported period.
2013 Off to a Slow Start: Retail sales in first-quarter 2013
were up a modest
2.2% (excluding auto), likely indicating that the payroll tax
hurting spending modestly. Weaker-than-expected sales also
performance in seasonal and weather-sensitive categories due to
cool spring weather. However, Fitch expects the full year to
come in around
3%-4%, versus 4.2% last year, suggesting sales will pick up over
of the year. Year-over-year comparisons will become easier as
the key spending
seasons, such as back-to-school and the holidays, occur.
Economic Backdrop Muted: As can be seen on pages 3-5, the
remains muted, though there has been some improvement from a
year ago. The
unemployment rate decreased to 7.6% in March, and the consumer
increased to 68.1 in April. The inflation picture has improved,
as cotton costs
remain low and gasoline prices have come off of their February
inflation has moderated to the low single-digit range, and could
up in 2013 as the effect of crop failures in 2012 works through
the food chain,
but is expected to remain manageable at 2%-3%.
Uneven Growth Across the Industry: Bifurcation of spending
remains an ongoing
theme. On the one hand, mid-to-upscale household spending
benefits from the
wealth effect (stabilizing-to-improving home prices and/or
higher stock prices).
On the other, lower-income households remain pressured with no
growth in real
incomes, which amplifies the brunt of higher taxes more acutely.
The report, 'U.S. Retail Stats Quarterly - Fourth-Quarter 2012,'
is available on
Fitch's web site at 'www.fitchratings.com'.
Monica Aggarwal, CFA
Fitch Ratings, Inc.
One State Street Plaza
New York, NY 10004
Media Relations: Brian Bertsch, New York, Tel: +1 212-908-0549,
Additional information is available at 'www.fitchratings.com'.
Applicable Criteria and Related Research U.S. Retail Stats
ALL FITCH CREDIT RATINGS ARE SUBJECT TO CERTAIN LIMITATIONS AND
PLEASE READ THESE LIMITATIONS AND DISCLAIMERS BY FOLLOWING THIS
here. IN ADDITION,
ON THE AGENCY'S
PUBLIC WEBSITE 'WWW.FITCHRATINGS.COM'. PUBLISHED RATINGS,
METHODOLOGIES ARE AVAILABLE FROM THIS SITE AT ALL TIMES. FITCH'S
CONDUCT, CONFIDENTIALITY, CONFLICTS OF INTEREST, AFFILIATE
AND OTHER RELEVANT POLICIES AND PROCEDURES ARE ALSO AVAILABLE
FROM THE 'CODE OF
CONDUCT' SECTION OF THIS SITE. FITCH MAY HAVE PROVIDED ANOTHER
SERVICE TO THE RATED ENTITY OR ITS RELATED THIRD PARTIES.
DETAILS OF THIS
SERVICE FOR RATINGS FOR WHICH THE LEAD ANALYST IS BASED IN AN
ENTITY CAN BE FOUND ON THE ENTITY SUMMARY PAGE FOR THIS ISSUER
ON THE FITCH