We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but every time the retail report rolls around, we’ve gotta be just that. Here goes.

Slowly but surely, retail sales are increasing, but even though February wasn’t hit as bad as Wall Street expected, the news is still all bad. Just not as bad as everyone predicted. Men’s Wearhouse is one shining example of this; although its profits went down, they didn’t go quite as far down as anticipated.

Good News First
Wal-Mart is kicking butt and bragging about it, too, with this statement from the Vice Chairman: “Our customers have come to trust our ‘Save Money Live Better’ promise, and we exceeded our own expectations for the period.” Hot Topic also seems to be getting along without too many hangups.

Not Doing So Hot
PacSun reported major losses in Q4.
L.L. Bean is prepping employees for a wave of layoffs in 2009, but hopes some of their more senior staff members will voluntarily retire and make it easier for everyone.
American Eagle didn’t do too well in Q4.
Neiman Marcus gets the prize, though, with a whopping $509 million loss.

Up for Sale
Teen retailer Charlotte Russe is putting itself on the sales rack – who will buy it and for how much? Time will tell.
Meanwhile, American Apparel has successfully sold some of itself to Lion Capital.

Life After Bankruptcy
Well, we’ve got some new Chapter 11 team members – Robins Bros Jewelry Chain and an Icelandic investor in UK retail, Baugur. (The recession’s everywhere, folks, not just the US.) What will happen to them now?

Let’s just take a look at what’s going on with retailers that filed Chapter 11 a while back. Gottschalks department store chain will auction off its assets by March 30th. S&K Menswear has begun 30 store closing sales, with markdowns of 30 to 50%. And Hartmax Corp’s Hickey Freeman store in NY is shutting down for good.

The Outlook
JCrew, Marc Jacobs, and of course, Wal-Mart are all planning to expand in 2009.

Aeropostatle will be launching a kids chain this summer and eBay will be giving PayPal and some of its other ecommerce platforms a little more focus in the coming year.

Target, on the other hand, isn’t so daring. It’ll open less stores than it originally intended to..
Read our past retail reports:
March 9
March 3
Feb 27
Feb 20
Feb 9
Feb 4
Jan 23