Thursday, March 5, 2009

Wal-mart's Smiling Face

Walmart, beloved by Midwesterners and people who live for blue smocks and value (and, really, in this economy, who doesn't?), is a bright spot in the retail sector.

Retail sales were up 0.7 percent in February compared with sales from that period last year, but it was due to Walmart, the nation's largest (and some would say, most powerful) retailer:

"Without Wal-Mart, overall retail sales would have fallen 4.1 percent. As Ken Perkins, president of Retail Metrics, noted in a report Thursday morning, 'it’s still ugly,' but Wal-Mart 'dressed up' the month nicely."

According to the NYT, the numbers underscore the fact that consumers are still only buying the essentials.

For Wal-mart (and its investors), the numbers translate into a 15 percent increase in the company's dividend, to $1.09 per share.

The economy is continuing to hurt clothing stores, and not just at the high-end. At Neiman Marcus, same-store sales are down, but it's the same story at Dillard's, the Gap, J.C. Penney, Macy's, and Stein Mart.

On a somewhat related note, if you haven't seen it, you have to check out Jon Stewart's rant about Rick Santelli and CNBC re: the economy. He mentions in particular their interview (around minute seven) with Sir Allen Stanford of Stanford Financial.

No comments: