Retail stocks rose 5.8 percent last week, supported by readings of consumer confidence and the job market that were negative, but no worse than feared.
The same kind of proportionality — if retailers are lucky — could apply to comparable-store sales reports this Thursday. Some chains are expected to show signs of stabilization in March, as well as a benefit from the timing of Easter, and even if the numbers aren’t actually good, the absence of downright bad results might be enough to send stocks higher.
Citigroup equity analyst Deborah Weinswig predicted comps at broadline retailers increased 1.2 percent in March versus a 0.3 percent rise a year ago.
“We believe favorable weather, pent-up demand, continued promotional activity and tax refund distributions spurred sales of spring merchandise,” said Weinswig, noting Wal-Mart Stores Inc., J.C. Penney Co. Inc. and Kohl’s Corp. are most likely to turn in better-than-expected results.
Standard & Poor’s equity research group also saw cause for some optimism. “We are seeing less discounting at Macy’s this spring versus last fall-winter,” said S&P. “Firmer pricing implies to us that customer spending levels, while still down year-over-year, have potentially stabilized.”
Another week of stock increases would help solidify an upswing that has sparked hopes, however faint, that some sort of a bottom has been reached.
On Friday, the S&P Retail Index advanced 1.2 percent, or 3.74 points, to end the week at 314.17. Retail stocks are up 40.8 percent from their March 6 low. The Dow Jones Industrial Average on Friday registered a rise of 0.5 percent, or 39.51 points, to 8,017.59, marking a 3.1 percent increase for the week and guaranteeing at least a weekend stay above the 8,000 level.
Last week, the Conference Board said consumer confidence remained at all-time lows for March and the unemployment rate also hit a 25-year high of 8.5 percent, about what economists had predicted.
Jeweler Zale Corp. enjoyed a dramatic rise in its stock, which increased 48 percent to $4.16 on Friday and was ahead 77 percent for the week after a series of investor meetings.
David Sternblitz, Zale’s vice president and treasurer, said, “There’s more recognition from the investment community that we will be a survivor in the jewelry industry as things consolidate. We are taking a number of steps in terms of managing our inventory, our expenses, looking at our real estate portfolio to prepare us to capture market share as the environment improves.”
Off-pricer TJX Cos. Inc. also caught the attention of Wall Street. RBC Capital Markets analyst Howard Tubin initiated coverage of the company, giving its shares a rating of outperform with a target price of $31. The stock closed up 2.1 percent Friday at $26.68 and was ahead 0.5 percent for the week.
“Better positioned players in the off-price channel will continue to outperform their department store peers,” Tubin said. “The channel is likely gaining new customers as the consumer continues to show a laser focus on ‘value.’”
London’s newly opened @designmuseum will look back on the life and work of Azzedine Alaïa in a show that the designer helped to curate before he died of heart failure last month. The retrospective, which Alaïa had worked on with Mark Wilson, chief curator of the @groningermuseum, will look at the impact of his work worldwide. The show, “Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier,” will run from May 10 to October 7. Read more about the exhibit on WWD.com #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @zefashioninsider)
@Pharrell and his wife Helen Lasichanh were among the stars that came out to celebrate @rimowa’s first pop-up concept shop. The space, which is located on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, draws inspiration from airport luggage carousels and lounge areas – and features the company’s luggage and accessories. If the pop-up is successful it could pave the way for addition temporary shops throughout the world. #wwdfashion (📷: Owen Kolasinski/BFA)
@carineroitfeld celebrated @crfashionbook’s first calendar last night with a dinner party at Spring Place in Manhattan. Photographed by @stevenkleinstudio, the calendar takes on a fitness theme and features @joansmalls, @gigihadid, @danielle_herrington_ – pictured here – and more. “[Carine Roitfeld] wanted me to feel sexy and she wanted me to be myself and feel it out on my own and do what I felt was right,” said Herrington, aka Miss October. #wwdeye
@saintrecords and @virgilabloh last night at @americanexpress’ “A Night With Success Makers” event. “I always bring it back to community because without that I wouldn’t have the courage,” said Knowles when asked how she has gotten where she is now. Read more highlights from their conversation on WWD.com. #wwdeye (📷: @lizdoupnik)
This Just In: Industry sources have told WWD that Anastasia Soare is rumored to be considering selling her beauty business, @anastasiabeverlyhills. According to those sources, Soare has tapped investment bank Imperial Capital to explore sale options for her eponymous beauty brand –– and with at least $340 million in net sales, this would be a big deal. Put in context of other recent transactions for makeup companies, Soare’s price tag could be in the billions if she were to sell the whole thing. #wwdnews #wwdbeauty (📷: @clint_spaulding)
@assouline’s latest book, “The Spirit of Bentley: Be Extraordinary” captures the adventurous attitudes and opulent lifestyles of @bentleymotors’ most creative owners and enthusiasts throughout the U.K. The 292-page hardcover has a section dedicated to showing its team of skilled artisans and photos of its most colorful owners, from George Bamford to designer @alicetemperley, pictured here by Aline Coquelle. #wwdeye
@google released its report on the most popular search terms this year. For fashion brands, the list was led by @gucci, the luxury brand that stunned the market last October when it pledged to stop using fur. Runner ups were @supremenewyork and @fashionnova, along with more established brands like @louisvuitton, @chanelofficial and @ysl. #wwdfashion (📷: @aitorrosasphoto)
In yet another fashion show shuffle, @elleryland is moving its show in sync with the Paris couture calendar — though the brand is still keeping one foot on the city’s ready-to-wear schedule. Their runway show in January will coincide with the launch of a new strategy: designing two main collections each year instead of four, which will then be released in four drops. “As we all know, the system needs to change. We need to show sooner to give time back to artisans and designers to do what they do best — create,” said founder Kym Ellery. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @kukukuba)
@maxmara’s classic 101801 coat was the cornerstone of its pre-fall 2018 collection. The design team expanded the traditional double-breasted, kimono-sleeved style into a trapeze coat, lean belted styles and a peacoat and presented them in monochromatic looks – like the camel one pictured here. #wwdfashion #prefall18 (📷: George Chinsee)