Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: Apparel sales shrinking with economy

November 25, 2008

Check Out what the shrinking U.S. economy is doing to apparel sales.

The Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development says the U.S. economy has probably slipped into a recession that will last through the middle of 2009.

But forget Paris, you don’t need to look any further than today’s results from apparel retailers for proof that the U.S. economy is in a slide.

Two retailers that cater to women over the age of 35, Talbots Inc and Chico’s FAS, each saw sales at established stores fall more than 13 percent in the latest quarter.

Third-quarter net profit at Chico’s, which also operates White House Black Market stores, withered to $2 million from $23.6 million a year earlier as mark-downs also pounded profits.

Talbots, which specializes in classic looks, saw its loss from continuing operations expand to $14.8 million from less than a million in the year-earlier third-quarter.

Elsewhere, Charming Shoppes, which sells plus-size clothing for women, had a bit of good news. It reported a smaller-than-expected loss, but said it expects a wider loss for the holiday quarter.

It goes without saying that none of these results bode well for the all-important holiday shopping season, which is expected to be the worst since the early 1990s.

Also in the basket:

Small U.S. stores adopt personal touch to survive

Fed announces new plan to support mortgages

Home prices plunge in September

GDP contracting deeper than first thought


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