Retailers look to boost sales, German car sales weak

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The outbreak of the coronavirus has dealt a shock to the global economy with unprecedented speed. Following are developments Thursday related to the national and global response, the work place and the spread of the virus.

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DOUBLE-DIGIT DROPS: The Buckle’s sales declined 16.8% in May as it continues to deal with the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. The denim retailer had closed all of its stores in mid-March. It began reopening some stores the week of April 26. The company had reopened 367 stores as of May 30, with approximately 30 additional stores reopening the week of May 31.

G-III Apparel Group is closing all of its Wilsons Leather and G. H. Bass stores as part of a restructuring plan. Chairman and CEO Morris Goldfarb said Thursday that the company’s wholesale business, which includes the brands DKNY, Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger and Karl Lagerfeld, will continue to be the primary growth and profit engine for the company. G-III also reported that it moved to a loss in its fiscal first quarter, with sales falling 36.1%.

Sales at The Michaels Cos. dropped 27% in its fiscal first quarter as the art and crafts retailer dealt with temporary store closings. Total comparable store sales declined 27.6%, but online sales soared nearly 300%. Approximately 1,000 stores were open and fully operational as of Thursday. Michaels anticipates substantially all of its 1,273 stores will be open by the end of the month.

Home decor retailer Kirkland’s first-quarter sales fell 40% as its stores were temporarily shuttered for about half the quarter. Kirkland’s currently has 357 of its 404 stores open to customers. Another 43 stores offer contactless curbside pickup only. One bright spot was online sales, which rose 32.3% in the quarter. In the last month of the quarter, online sales jumped 97%.

TOURISM: Spain’s restrictions on land border crossings with France and Portugal will be lifted on June 22. Under special measures imposed to curb the spread of the new coronavirus, only residents, cross-border workers and truck drivers were allowed since mid-March.

Spain’s Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto says that 6,000 German tourists are expected to test new safety measures for travelers in the Mediterranean Balearic islands in mid-June, as the country readies to fully reopen to international tourism on July 1.

Tourism generates 12% of Spain ‘s GDP and helps employ 2.6 million people.

TRANSPORTATION: American Airlines plans to fly 55% of its normal U.S. schedule in July, up from a low of 20% in April. International traffic is expected to remain light, with American operating only 20% of its year ago schedule in July. The airline says it will also reopen some airport lounges this month.

Germany’s auto industry says that car sales in the country remained very weak in May despite the reopening of showrooms and the easing of other coronavirus restrictions.

The German Association of the Automotive Industry, or VDA, said Thursday that 168,100 cars were registered last month, 50% fewer than a year earlier. That’s a bit better than the 61% drop recorded in April.

Exports were even weaker. The VDA said that 105,100 cars were exported in May, 67% fewer than a year earlier. While production has picked up in Germany after being all but halted at the height of European lockdowns, it was still down 66%, with 151,100 cars produced.

CENTRAL GOVERNMENTS & BANKS: Finance ministers of the Group of Seven major economies vowed support for low-income countries struggling with the coronavirus pandemic. The G7 finance ministers said in a statement that lenders also had responsibility and should “rise to the occasion.” They urged creditors to not lend on terms that involve assets unrelated to the projects the financing is meant for. The gathering, held remotely, also endorsed the suspension of repayments of bilateral debt for the poorest countries until the end of 2020.

MARKETS: Stock markets edged lower  on Thursday as investors looked ahead to the European Central Bank’s decision on more monetary stimulus and the latest weekly jobless claims figures in the United States.