Reuters - Video

EDITION: U.S. | U.K. | IN

Business

Irene fails to blow away August sales

Thursday, Sep 01, 2011 - 02:01

Sept. 1 - U.S. sales at stores opened at least a year were a mixed bag in August and auto sales were up from a year ago, defying expectations of major consumer-related weakness tied to Hurricane Irene and a wild stock market. Jill Bennett reports.

▲ Hide Transcript

View Transcript

Back to school promotions helped entice jittery consumers to spend in August, but total gains were not as robust as hoped. Nevertheless, many top U.S. retailers posted better-than-expected same-store sales last month, despite consumers feeling a little dazed and confused, according to Mark Vitner, managing director and senior economist at Wells Fargo. SOUNDBITE: MARK VITNER, MANAGING DIRECTOR AND SENIOR ECONOMIST, WELLS FARGO (ENGLISH) SAYING: "We've had a lot thrown at them. You've had earthquake, weather, you've had big swing in the stock market but at the end of the day it all comes down to what do you have to do, back-to-school season is here, you've got the kids going back to school, you've got to buy stuff for them and I just don't see how sales can do all that poorly." The National Retail Federation expects back-to-school and back-to-college spending to top $68 billion during this all important selling season. Discounters and warehouse clubs like Costco fared best with budget-conscious consumers, but so did specialty retailers like Victoria's Secret parent Limited Brands. Department store Macy's didn't do as well. Its' sales rose 5 percent, but could've have been higher if Hurricane Irene didn't force the temporary closure of 100 stores on the East Coast. But bad weather and economic worries didn't stop car buyers. Chrysler said it had its best August sales in four years. There were smaller gains for rivals General Motors and Ford. Still, sales were low on an historical basis and consumers face more headwinds. SOUNDBITE: MARK VITNER, MANAGING DIRECTOR AND SENIOR ECONOMIST, WELLS FARGO (ENGLISH) SAYING: "I think a big problem for consumers is that incomes aren't growing that much particularly after you adjust for inflation, higher food and energy prices in particular. Incomes are barely growing at all and as a result they are really becoming much more value conscious." And even with a tough August, those value-oriented consumers remain resilient, which could give the economy the boost it needs to get back on track. Jill Bennett, Reuters

Irene fails to blow away August sales

Thursday, Sep 01, 2011 - 02:01

Top News »

The Exchange »

Moving Pictures »