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TESS VIGELAND: The prognosis just improved for consumer spending — which is the critical lifeblood of the U.S. economy.
The world’s biggest retailer, Wal-Mart, gave us a look at its latest medical chart today. Sales increased a healthy 2.5 percent last month. Even Target, which has been suffering from anemic sales lately, took a turn for the better with a slightly-better-than-expected 0.5 percent improvement.
But one major chart is missing from the monthly retail check-up: As of now, Macy’s has decided it wants a little privacy from the usual investor poking and prodding. More on that from our Senior Business Correspondent Bob Moon:
BOB MOON: No news may be good news when it comes to avoiding the embarrassing headlines after a lousy sales month.
MAREK FUCHS: Management doesn’t want to get beaten up once a month when these numbers aren’t coming in the way they want them to.
Marek Fuchs is a commentator for TheStreet.com. He contends there’s no other plausible explanation for Macy’s to suddenly stop issuing its monthly results. Chief Financial Officer Karen Hoguet dropped the announcement in during a conference call with analysts last month, but few media outlets noticed.
KAREN HOGUET: This could be misconstrued as trying to cutback on the information that we are providing to investors. That is not the intent.
Macy’s blames “undue confusion” over calendar shifts and seasonal promotions. Frank Badillo, senior economist at the research firm Retail Forward, says the big department store chain has a point:
Every Easter, when there’s a shift in the Easter holiday, for example, or when you have fewer shopping days after Thanksgiving in any given year, it can make these numbers a lot more difficult to interpret.
But TheStreet.com’s Marek Fuchs says that doesn’t justify a public company telling investors they can’t be trusted to do that:
FUCHS: Every savvy investor knows to take any single month with a grain of salt and to look at variables, certainly. But the point is, companies always choose bad times, times where things are turning against them, to change their practices in terms of reporting, and it’s always a red flag.
Fuchs says the withholding information mainly leaves smaller investors in the dark — and, he says, just at the wrong time.
Macy’s joins a growing list of companies that have stopped providing monthly numbers, including Home Depot and the parent firm of Sears and K-Mart.
In Los Angeles, I’m Bob Moon for Marketplace.
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