Business Briefs – August 25, 2016

Applications for U.S. Unemployment Benefits Slipped Last Week

WASHINGTON (AP) – Slightly fewer people filed for U.S. unemployment benefits last week, a sign the American job market remains healthy.

The Labor Department said Thursday that applications for jobless aid slipped by 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 261,000. The less volatile four-week average dropped by 1,250 to 264,000. Overall, the number of people receiving unemployment checks fell by 30,000 to 2.15 million, down 5 percent from a year earlier.

Indian Textile Maker Welspun Under Scrutiny Over Sheets

NEW YORK (AP) – U.S. retailers including J.C. Penney and Wal-Mart are scrutinizing whether sheets Welspun India Ltd. had said were high-end Egyptian cotton were actually cheaper knock-offs, questions that have sent the textile company’s shares plunging.

Since Target announced Friday that it was pulling the sheets and was terminating its relationship with the company, other retailers have launched investigations into the certification claims from Welspun.

Welspun told investors this week it’s conducting an audit.

Sears Moves to Quarterly Loss, Sales Keep Faltering

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. (AP) – Sears posted a second-quarter loss, with perpetually weak sales overshadowing the retailer’s efforts to cut costs and slow its cash burn. CEO Edward Lampert’s hedge fund will forward the ailing chain $300 million in additional debt financing.

Traditional department stores like Sears are trying to reinvent themselves as shoppers shift more of their purchases online, buy clothes at discounters and spend more on experiences. But Sears has dealt with weak sales for years, unable to keep up with competitors in appliances, like Home Depot, or general merchandise, like Wal-Mart, or everything, like Amazon.com.

Dollar General, Dollar Tree Report Weak Sales Growth

NEW YORK (AP) – Dollar General and Dollar Tree both reported weaker-than-expected sales figures Thursday, as struggling lower-income shoppers spent less at the rival stores.

Dollar General said a cut in food-stamp benefits in several states kept its customers away. Sales at stores open at least a year, a measure of a retailer’s health, rose 0.7 percent in its second quarter, below market expectations of a 2.7 percent increase.

Dollar Tree said some of its customers were “under pressure” and that sales at stores open at least a year rose 1.2 percent in its second quarter. Analysts expected growth of 2.4 percent.