Stimulus Checks Making a Differenceby Tim Manni
Shopping trips by consumers increased in May thanks in part to the economic stimulus checks now being sent out; 57% of retailers’ sales reports for May were higher than predicted. Manufacturing also unexpectedly rose in May to 49.6, up from 48.6 in April.
“Value retailers” Costco, BJ’s, and Wal-Mart have continued to be the exception to the retail industry, watching their stocks, sales, and memberships increase as consumers are buying in bulk to save money. Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, cashed in about $350 million in stimulus checks. While it is unknown how much of that money was spent in their stores, Wal-Mart saw same-store sales, excluding gasoline, increase 3.9%; including gas, sales rose to 4.4%.
Warehouse clubs Costco and BJ’s exceeded May estimates as well. BJ’s same-store sales increased 13.4% against predictions of 8.9%, and Costco’s sales increased 9%, besting expectations of 6.9%. Both retailers were helped by gas sales.
Cooler temperatures in May kept warm-weather clothing sales below expectations. Big-name clothing retailers Gap and Limited both posted losses for the month.