STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
NPR's business news starts with a retail's lousy summer.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
INSKEEP: It's been sunny in much of the country, but inside many stores, the attitude is gloomy - or at least it was during the month of June. The latest sales figures are in, and they show many consumers were not in a buying mood last month. NPR's Wade Goodwyn has more.
WADE GOODWYN, BYLINE: If your store catered to the rich or your store catered to the poor or working class, you made out okay. It was the middle class who clutched their credit cards in their tight, little fists, refusing to let go. Retail experts said that lousy weather was one factor in the lower-than-expected sales figures. But, to coin a phrase, it's consumer uncertainty, stupid, that continues to plague the nation's retailers. Luxury stores like Nordstrom's tended to do well. Nordstrom's posted an 8.1 percent rise in sales, far outpacing the 4.7 percent increase expected. Discounters like Ross also fared nicely, Ross reporting a 7 percent increase.
On the other hand, Macy's and Kohl's disappointed, with Kohl's reporting a 4.2 percent drop in sales. Specialty stores did better, however. Bath and Body Works and Victoria's Secret posted very strong, 7 percent increases. With the important back-to-school season on deck, retailers are unsettled. If consumers demonstrate they're ready to spend, the summer might be saved. Wade Goodwyn, NPR News, Dallas. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.