June sees increase in retail sales


Retailers have always known what four-letter word gets people to spend: SALE. High double-digit discounts in June produced the biggest one-month rise in sales to 6.5 percent, the highest figure in 12 years.

Some stores did even better. Costco saw a 14 percent jump in sales. Saks, Zumiez, Nordstrom and Kohl's all reported good sales figures as well.

Spending also spilled into other areas, such as in the electronics industry. Customers seem comfortable purchasing $200 to $400 smart phones and the bills that come with them.

But the economy may not be all rosy yet.

"I don't think that...suddenly people are feeling fancy free with their money," said Kit Yarrow with Golden Gate University. "It's really more snapping up the bargains."

Among those who carry loaded shopping bags at Westfield Valley Fair, there's Aimee Reeder with her four children in tow. Reeder says she's unmoved by deep discounts.

"I try not to buy on clearance too much," said Reeder. "I notice I used to do that, and I would buy a ton of stuff, and then half of it would never even get used."

College student Rachel Rose is facing higher tuition fees and book costs.

"I've got to pay rent and things like that," Rose said. "I just don't have the money to spend on nice clothes or a bunch of pretty jewelry."

Eventually, retailers may have to raise prices as their costs rise.

"Between the very high prices that they're facing for all the components of the products they want to sell and the very super bargain mentality of consumers, they're really between a rock and a hard place," Yarrow said.

Naveed Thobhani, who owns 24 mobile phone case kiosks, said sales are improving.

"I would say we've had a pretty good bounce back," Thobhani said, "but the recession is not over."

For now, we'll take some positive economic news, but we'll also have to track the consumer's wallet closely.

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