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News Briefs

  • 4/13/2023

    U.S. consumer sentiment inches up in April — so do inflation expectations


    Consumers are feeling a bit better about the economy, but are more worried about inflation.

    The overall consumer sentiment index ticked up 2.4% to 63.5 in early April from a four-month low of 62 in March, according to the University of Michigan’s preliminary reading for April.  Sentiment is now about 3% below a year ago, but 27% above the all-time low from last June.

    “Rising sentiment for lower-income consumers was offset by declines among those with higher incomes," said Joanne Hsu, director, Surveys of Consumers. "While consumers have noted the easing of inflation among durable goods and cars, they still expect high inflation to persist, at least in the short run."

    The index that measures what consumers think about current economic conditions rose to 68.6  in April from 66.3 in March.  The index of consumer expectations (for the next six months) inched up to 60.3 from 59.2 in March.

    Year-ahead inflation expectations rose to 4.6% in April from 3.6% in March. Inflation expectations have been seesawing for four consecutive months, alternating between increases and decreases.

    “Uncertainty over short-run inflation expectations continues to be notably elevated, indicating that the recent volatility in expected year-ahead inflation is likely to continue,” said Hsu. “The bumpiness in inflation expectations is limited to the short run as long-run inflation expectations remained remarkably stable.”

    Long-run inflation expectations came in at 2.9% for the fifth consecutive month and have stayed within the narrow 2.9% to 3.1% range for 20 of the last 21 months. 

    “While consumers have noted the easing of inflation among durable goods and cars, they still expect high inflation to persist, at least in the short run,” said Hsu.

  • 4/11/2023

    Texas’s Fitness Connection: Cheap and on-the-leap


    Pandemic Peloton poop-out caused a resurgence of fitness concepts in physical retail, one of them being a fast-growing Dallas-based chain called Fitness Connection.

    With more than 30 gyms in the Lone Star State, concentrated largely in the Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston metros, Fitness Connection opened its second gym in the San Antonio market this week and will open another there later this year.

    One of the lowest entry-priced gyms in the United States, Fitness Connection costs just $10 a month for members who sign up for annual plans.

    "We're thrilled to expand our reach in San Antonio and provide more people with a convenient, affordable, and inspiring way to achieve their fitness goals," said the chain’s CEO Patrick Flanagan.

    Fitness Connection bills its spaces as “Your Gym Come True,” offering full-size basketball and pickleball courts, women’s workout areas, saunas, and a Kids Club with a mini basketball court and a theater.

    "Our gyms offer more amenities, more equipment, and more space than any of our competitors,” Flanagan maintains.

  • 4/9/2023

    Walmart taps 17-year Johnson Control veteran for new C-suite post

    Walmart has entered into an agreement with CareSource to address racial health inequities.

    Walmart has named its first-ever chief belonging officer.

     The retailer giant named A. Denise Malloy-Deaderick to the post,  which is an evolution of the chief diversity officer position. The appointment is effective April 14.

     Prior to Walmart, Malloy-Deaderick spent 17 years at Johnson Controls, most recently as senior director, market strategy diversity, a  newly-created position responsible for identifying, tracking and reporting diversity ROI to the business unit. 

    In the role, she also was responsible for developing formal diversity processes and partnerships necessary to ensure the onboarding, development and promotion of exceptional talent, and worked with business and market leaders to significantly impact the workplace, marketplace and community.

    Malloy-Deaderick also worked at J.P. Morgan and Xerox.

    In a related post on her LinkedIn page, Malloy-Deaderick wrote that she looked forward to “diving in and engaging with the over 2 million associates around the globe to work toward workplace diversity and inclusion that drives equitable outcomes for all.”

    “To my new, fellow Walmart associates, I’m excited to begin partnering with you to continue to create a culture where we all feel we belong,” she added.

  • 4/5/2023

    Mastercard: Retail sales up 4.7% year-over-year in March

    millennial shoppers

    Consumers continue to prioritize experiences and essentials in their spending. 

    U.S. retail sales increased 4.7% year-over-year in March, according to Mastercard SpendingPulse, which measures in-store and online retail sales, excluding automotive, across all forms of payment. (The metric reflects nominal spending and is not adjusted for inflation.)

    At a national level, nominal spending growth was down slightly compared to February, which saw a 6.9% year-over-year increase. Spending trends in March, however, were consistent with those experienced earlier this year.

    In other March results, e-commerce sales were up 13.0% year-over-year, while in-store sales rose 2.8%. Restaurant sales grew 11.6% and grocery sales rose 5.6%.

    The home improvement, home furniture/furnishings and electronics sectors continued to experience a dip in year-over-year growth as consumers prioritized experiences and essentials, noted Mastercard.

    “There are a number of factors influencing how today’s consumer is shopping including inflation, the labor market, food and gas prices, and the path of interest rates,” said Steve Sadove, senior advisor for Mastercard and former CEO and Chairman of Saks Incorporated. “But they’re still spending -- we’re seeing varied growth sector by sector, with purchases largely shifting to necessities and experiences.”

  • 4/5/2023

    Shoe City liquidating; Gordon Brothers to sell store leases

    out of business

    Esco Ltd. (doing business as Shoe City) has filed for bankruptcy.

    The Baltimore-based athletic footwear and apparel chain, which has been in business for more than 70 years, operates 39 stores throughout Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. The company filed for Chapter 11 reorganization on March 31, and the bankruptcy court authorized going-out-of-business sales.

    Gordon Brothers announced it will sell retail leases and operate going-out-of-business sales at all 39 Shoe City locations. The stores range in size from 2,000 to 9,900 sq. ft., and include street front, regional mall and strip center sites.

    “These leases offer a fantastic opportunity for retailers looking to expand their footprint,” said James Avallone, senior managing director, real estate at Gordon Brothers. “The stores offer high-traffic locations with attractive co-tenancy and favorable lease terms with options.”

    Beginning April 6, storewide price reductions go into effect at all store locations with up to 30% off original prices on the entire stock of athletic footwear and apparel, including new arrivals and highly sought-after brands.

    Additionally, store fixtures are available for purchase throughout the going-out-of-business sales.

    For additional details, including lease sale deadlines and lease terms for individual locations, contact James Avallone at [email protected] or Sharon Haggard at [email protected].

  • 4/2/2023

    H&M Beauty to debut its first-ever ‘flagship’

    H&M beauty

    H&M is diving deeper into beauty.

    The global fast-fashion giant will open its first two beauty “flagships,” in Oslo, Norway. The first H&M Beauty will open on April 5, at Karl Johans gate 14. The second will open on May 25, in Oslo City shopping center.

    Approximately 3,230 sq. ft. each, the two H&M Beauty shops are located within existing H&M locations, and will have direct access from the street. The merchandise mix will include a wide selection of H&M’s private-label beauty products along with more than 80 Scandinavian and other external brands.

    H&M Beauty has been created to give customers an elevated store experience, and will include beauty bars and dedicated beauty advisers. The design mixes cocktail bar and spa-like aesthetics, offering a social scene as well as opportunities for self-care and wellness.

    The two new shops are the start of H&M Beauty's journey with the goal of creating both a physical and digital beauty universe where the customer can be inspired and buy their entire look, the company said. 

    “We are very happy that we can now offer our customers a well-curated beauty assortment that goes hand-in-hand with the fashion we offer,” said Catherine Wigzell, general manager, H&M Beauty.

    “Our goal is to inspire every customer who enters an H&M store, or who shops online at, to leave with a complete look across fashion and beauty.”

    In March, H&M entered its 77th market with the opening of a store in Albania. As of March 30, the company had a total of 4, 414 stores around the globe.

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