Phillips-Van Heusen is starting to see a resurgence in consumer spending, CEO Emanuel Chirico told CNBC.
Chirico said the consumer started to come back in the third quarter of last year, but that trend has accelerated in the first quarter of this year.
Phillips-Van Heusen was one of several retailers appearing at the Telsey Advisory retailer investment conference. Chirico said the mood is much different this year.
"This time last year, I remember being at this investor conference and it felt like the world was about to end and the consumer really pulled back," he said.
Now, the retailer is more optimistic, and has started to hire more employees, albeit cautiously.
"We are being cautious about that," Chirico said. "We have slowly started to hire back into the demand."
Still, Chirico said companies have learned to do more work with fewer people. Chirico also expects retailers to regain some of their pricing power next year.
Phillips-Van Heusen and other retailers have begun ordering products for the fall and winter.
As he looks at products for this year's Christmas holiday season, Chirico said there has not been "any significant" inflation. However, there will be "some inflation in costs" of about 3 percent to 5 percent beginning in 2011.
The good news is he expects the company will be able to raise its prices in response to those costs.
"I think it could be a positive for thing for the industry," he said.
Like many other retailers, Chirico said he will feel more confident in the second half of this year, if he sees "more sustainable growth."
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