Retailers, consumers and prices
Andy Puzder, chief executive of Carl’s Jr and Hardee’s parent CKE Restaurants, is not a man to mince words and on Thursday he shared his views on “socialist type” state governments in California and Oregon.
Many of the company’s Carl’s Jr restaurants are located in the Golden State, and Puzder has plans to lessen that exposure over time.
“As such, we’re targeting a large percentage of our growth in Texas. It is deemed to be more business friendly,” Puzder told analysts on a conference call.
“Oregon has a higher minimum wage and a similar regulatory structure as California and also has a similar socialist type government at the state level so business there actually can be as bad or worse than California,” he said.
“Texas is doing really well,” he added.
Got an old suit gathering dust in the back of your closet? Men’s Wearhouse wants to give it to someone who could make better use of it.
The retailer is holding a national suit drive at 580 of its U.S. locations, collecting donations of used suits, sport coats, slacks, dress shirts, ties and belts. The clothing will be distributed to more than 120 local and regional non-profit organizations in cities across the country and given to men in need who are re-entering the workforce.
Another 27,000 retail jobs disappeared in May, according to the U.S. government’s monthly employment report. That makes 152,000 retail jobs eliminated since the beginning of the year.
Overall, nonfarm payrolls fell by 49,000. But even more worrisome for the economy and for retailers could be the jump in the unemployment rate to 5.5 percent. That half-point jump was the largest such move in 22 years and brought the unemployment rate to its highest level in 3-1/2 years.
Retailer’s May sales reports yesterday were mostly better than expected, causing some analysts to think they could signal the beginning of a consumer turnaround.
But others said it just showed a blip in spending that was caused by the tax rebate checks consumers have begun to receive.
Economic concerns could still linger after all that stimulus money is gone, they say, and things could get worse if consumers, already hit by $4-a-gallon gasoline, soaring food prices and falling home values really start to worry about their jobs.
Wonder how a half-point jump in the unemployment number plays into that?
Meanwhile, to take your mind of the jobs report, there’s always the company pep rally that masquerades as the Wal-Mart annual meeting. The world’s-largest retailer flies in employees from all around the world to help pack the basketball arena at the University of Arkansas, where stars entertain the crowd (this year’s acts include Miley Cyrus), everybody does the Wal-Mart cheer, and, oh yeah, shareholders get to ask questions.
Also in the basket:
New Wal-Mart director may herald changing of the guard (Wall Street Journal, subscription required)
Target grows makeup artist brands, adds testers (WWD)
Sears Holdings Corp reported a quarterly loss this morning. But the thing that left analysts like Credit Suisse’s Gary Balter scratching their heads was the company’s expectations for higher earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) for the full year.
“We are struggling with what we are missing in the context of Q1 being down over $385 million in EBITDA and other comments in the release that talk about the expected difficult sales and gross margin environment,” Balter said in his research note.
American small business owners are a resolute lot, pushing ahead with plans to grow their operations despite losing a large chunk of sales to soaring energy costs, an American Express OPEN survey showed on Friday.
Ironically, most are also day-dreamers who look on the bright side , the survey added.
AnnTaylor reported a quarterly loss on Friday as the struggling clothing retailer, facing lagging sales and falling store traffic, took a charge to restructure its operations. But not to worry — the CEO is aware of the problems facing the retailer and is “all over it.”