My favorite source for all information retail is Jennifer Black of Jennifer Black & Associates. Here's an interesting comment on July's retail sales:
As consumer spending continues be sluggish there are signs in the economy that the recession may be close to an end as we are seeing improvement in manufacturing, employment picked up in the month and construction spending also saw a slight uptick. Manufacturing fell at the slowest pace in 11 months. New orders and production grew at the fastest clip in two years.
We believe that retailers are facing additional headwinds in the month of July with the shift of the tax-free holidays from July into August. This coupled with parts of the country that faced cooler weather, especially the East coast, we believe impacted sales and traffic. However, the West coast was going through a heat wave with temperatures reaching the 100’s for the last 1.5 weeks of July, which drove people to the malls where they found comfort.
Here is an interesting perspective on fashion:
I think that consumers will be somewhat more value oriented than they were a few years ago, though not going so far as my grandparents' generation. But people will still want to look cool, so look for more grassroots oriented trend setting, as befits the new social networking lifestyle.
We believe we have entered a new era of retail, putting the spotlight on fashion and the urgency for consumers to be on the cutting edge with the help of new technologies that have uncovered a barrage of opportunities available through MySpace, Facebook, Twitter and blogging that allows consumers to hear it first from celebrities, designers, friends, etc. Trends will appear quicker and depart quicker as the fashion world moves through the Internet at a speed of light, in our opinion.