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Retailers Set Record Holiday Sales, Above Estimate – WWD



U.S. retail sales for the holiday season came out better than expected, increasing 14.1 percent, according to the National Retail Federation.

The NRF said Friday that the results beat its own forecast for the season, and transcended a cluster of headwinds, from COVID-19 to supply chain bottlenecks, inventory shortages, labor shortages and inflation.

Record inflation levels, as well as strong consumer demand, rising wages and low unemployment lifted the retail sales figure for the season. Gains were biggest in apparel, sporting goods and general merchandise, according to the NRF.

While NRF’s report was upbeat, the trade organization warned that retailers will continue to face challenges in 2022, specifically citing the pandemic.

During the holiday season, defined by the NRF as the Nov. 1 to Dec. 31 period, sales hit $886.7 billion, easily beating the organization’s forecast and setting a new record.

In the 2020 holiday season, U.S. consumers spent $777.3 billion spent, representing 8.2 percent growth over the 2019 season. The 2021 growth compares with an average of 4.4 percent holiday sales growth over the previous five years.

The number includes online and other nonstore sales, which were up 11.3 percent at $218.9 billion. The numbers exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants to focus on core retail.

“We closed out the year with outstanding annual retail sales and a record holiday season, which is a clear testament to the power of the consumer and the ingenuity of retailers and their workers,” NRF president and chief executive officer Matthew Shay said in a statement. “Despite supply chain problems, rising inflation, labor shortages and the Omicron variant, retailers delivered a positive holiday experience to pandemic-fatigued consumers and their families. Consumers were backed by strong wages and record savings and began their shopping earlier this year than ever before. This is, in part, why we saw a decline in sales from November to December.

“NRF expects further growth for 2022, and we will continue to focus on industry challenges presented by COVID-19, the supply chain, labor force issues and persistent inflation,” said Shay. “The numbers are clear: 2021 was an undeniably outstanding year for retail sales.”

“Retail sales displayed solid momentum throughout the holiday season,” added NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz in a statement. “Worries about inflation and COVID-19 put pressure on consumer attitudes, but did not dampen spending, and sales were remarkably strong. Even though many consumers began shopping in October, this was the strongest November and December we’ve ever seen. Despite supply chain challenges, retailers kept their shelves stocked and consumers were able to fill their carts both in-store and online. Holiday spending during 2021 reflected continued consumer demand that is driving the economy and should continue in 2022.

“Nonetheless, we should be prepared for challenges in the coming months due to the substantial uncertainty brought by the pandemic.”

Back in October, the NRF predicted that 2021 holiday sales would increase between 8.5 and 10.5 percent over 2020 to between $843.4 billion and $859 billion. But in December, the NRF revised its forecast to as much as 11.5 percent growth.

Online spending met NRF’s forecast, which called for growth of between 11 and 15 percent to between $218.3 billion and $226.2 billion.

NRF’s holiday total includes sales for Nov. 1 through Dec. 31. Retail sales as defined by NRF, which exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants, were down 2.7 percent seasonally adjusted in December from November, but up 13.4 percent unadjusted year-over-year. That compared with a 0.3 percent month-over-month decrease in November, which was up 14.8 percent year-over-year. As of December, sales were up 13 percent unadjusted year-over-year on a three-month moving average.

NRF’s numbers are based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, which said Friday that overall retail sales in December — including autos, gas and restaurants — were down 1.9 percent seasonally adjusted from November but up 16.9 percent year-over-year. That compares with increases of 0.2 percent month-over-month and 18.2 percent year-over-year in November. Despite occasional month-over-month declines, sales have grown year-over-year every month since June 2020, according to Census data.

NRF’s statistics showed:

• Sporting goods stores, up 20.9 percent.

• General merchandise stores, up 15.2 percent.

• Furniture and home furnishings stores, up 15 percent.

• Electronics and appliance stores, up 13.8 percent.

• Building materials and garden supply stores, up 13.5 percent.

• Online and other nonstore sales, up 11.3 percent.

• Health and personal care stores, up 9.6 percent.

• Grocery and beverage stores, up 8.6 percent.

According to a preliminary Mastercard SpendingPulseTM from late December, holiday retail sales, excluding automotive, increased 8.5 percent year-over-year, running from Nov. 1 through Dec. 24. Mastercard said online sales grew 11 percent compared to the same period last year. Mastercard SpendingPulse measures in-store and online retail sales across all forms of payment.


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Share Dietary Restrictions With Opening Ceremony Fall 2022 Collection – WWD



The pandemic has put many at a standstill, but not Opening Ceremony founder Humberto Leon, who over the past year, amid a relocation to his native Los Angeles, has been busy as a waiter at his newly opened Peruvian-Chinese family restaurant Chifa.

In today’s healthy-minded society, he noted, everybody is affected by one intolerance or the other and comes up with disparate culinary requests, so he wanted to turn those dietary conversations he had with clients into something fun. “It was one of the most fun times I had during COVID-19, because I actually started to see people and talk to them, to strangers,” Leon said over a Zoom call.

He and co-founder Carol Lim served a playful recipe, elaborating graphics and slogans reading “Gluten Free. No Pain” or “Vegetables & Proud” splashed across streetwear basics.

Building an entire wardrobe around the concept, the duo focused on jersey, which has defined their 20-year career in one way or another — be it for the bestselling Kenzo tiger sweats when they helmed the brand or the signature Opening Ceremony logoed hoodies.

They used the fabric quite experimentally, for mohair-looking argyle cardigans, cable-knit loungewear sets and loose sartorial tropes bearing a tartan pattern. Women were clad in polar fleece, miniskirts and blazers, while men paired tartan pants, also made of jersey, with varsity jackets. Tie-dyed short shorts for men and flared low-rise pants for women added a dash of early 2000s nostalgia to a collection primarily based on quirky preppy staples.

As masterminds of blockbuster collaborations, which Leon admitted are part of the Opening Ceremony mindset, the duo came up with a capsule collection with Dickies, filled with workwear suits crafted from velvet-looking flocked denim and windowpane tweed sets.

While fall had all the right ingredients, Leon and Lim served a collection lacking that zing that has had kids queuing outside their Lower Manhattan shop for two decades.


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Aurora James, Founder of the 15 Percent Pledge, Signs With UTA – WWD



Aurora James — the fashion designer, creative director and founder of the 15 Percent Pledge — has signed with United Talent Agency.

The 38-year-old, a Toronto-native based in New York, is the founder of Brother Vellies, the luxury accessories brand worn by the likes of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Beyoncé, Meghan Markle, Rihanna and Zendaya. Launched in 2013, the fashion line is handmade by artisans who utilize traditional African designs.

“Aurora is a visionary whose creativity and passion are transcending boundaries and shaping culture,” Darnell Strom, UTA’s partner and head of culture and leadership, told WWD in a statement. “We are excited to work with Aurora and expand her influence across multiple verticals.”

In 2020, following the murder of George Floyd, sparking the Black Lives Matter movement, James created the 15 Percent Pledge — a nonprofit that encourages retailers to pledge at least 15 percent of their shelf space to Black-owned businesses, while offering consulting services. In the first year about 30 companies, including Sephora and Macy’s Inc., have signed the pledge, shifting nearly $10 billion of revenue to Black-owned businesses, according to the organization.

Recognized for her work and activism, James has received the Council of Fashion Designers of America Founder’s Award, CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund prize, British Fashion Award, as well as two CFDA Emerging Talent nominations and a CFDA American Accessories Designer of the Year nomination. She also made Time’s 2021 100 list of most influential people.

At UTA, she joins a roster of clients that include Timothée Chalamet, Kevin Hart, Will Ferrell, Tiffany Haddish, Ben Stiller, Paris Hilton and Jessica Alba, as well as content creators Emma Chamberlain, Bretman Rock and the D’Amelio family. In the world of fashion, the agency represents British Vogue’s Edward Enninful and model Gisele Bündchen.


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Wegfall von Corona-Test für 2G: EU-Staaten wollen Regeln für Einreise lockern



Wegfall von Corona-Test für 2G

EU-Staaten wollen Regeln für Einreise lockern

Die Omikron-Variante dominiert ganz Europa. Deshalb ist aus Sicht der Mitgliedsstaaten ein verpflichtender Test für Geimpfte und Genese auf Reisen durch die EU nicht mehr sinnvoll. In einer Erklärung verweisen sie darauf, dass „Europa insgesamt grenzenlos mobil bleiben“ soll.

Die Mitgliedstaaten wollen das Reisen für Bürger mit einem gültigen Corona-Zertifikat innerhalb der EU einfacher gestalten. Sie sprachen sich dafür aus, dass Geimpfte oder Genesene keinen zusätzlichen Corona-Test für die Einreise in ein anderes EU-Land brauchen. Derzeit verlangt etwa Italien für die Einreise von vollständig Geimpften oder Genesenen noch einen zusätzlichen negativen Corona-Test.

„Reisende, die im Besitz eines gültigen digitalen Corona-Zertifikats der EU sind, sollten keinen zusätzlichen Einschränkungen bei der Reisefreiheit unterworfen sein“, hieß es in einer Erklärung der 27 Mitgliedstaaten. Dies kommt allerdings nur einer Empfehlung gleich, da die einzelnen EU-Länder bei der Gesundheitspolitik weitgehend selbst das Sagen haben.

Es sei wichtig, dass „wir in Europa insgesamt grenzenlos mobil bleiben“, sagte die deutsche Europa-Staatssekretärin Anna Lührmann am Rande des Ministerrats in Brüssel. Die EU-Kommission rief die Mitgliedsländer auf, den Beschluss umzusetzen, da die Omikron-Variante inzwischen in ganz Europa dominierend sei. Deshalb seien zusätzliche Auflagen nicht mehr gerechtfertigt, da sie „Reisen in der ganzen EU erschwerten“, erklärte die Kommission.

Ab dem 1. Februar gelten EU-Bürger in der Regel nur noch dann als vollständig geimpft, wenn ihre letzte Dosis höchstens 270 Tage – also rund neun Monate – zurückliegt. Ansonsten wird für ein gültiges Corona-Zertifikat eine Booster-Impfung nötig. Auch in Deutschland tritt diese Regel zum Monatswechsel in Kraft. Nach Angaben des europäischen Zentrums für die Prävention und die Kontrolle von Krankheiten (ECDC) sind inzwischen im Schnitt fast 70 Prozent der Europäer vollständig geimpft.


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