Investors struggled to find a direction for retail stocks after a forecast for weaker sales growth this holiday season and generally dismal results from the few retailers who reported September comparable-store sales.
The S&P 500 Retailing Industry Group vacillated between modest increases and modest declines today and after almost an hour of trading was down 0.2 percent to 1,209.24. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.1 percent to 16,890.47.
Among the retail decliners were The Buckle Inc., down 4.1 percent to $36.71 after the company reported a 6.7 percent comp decline for September, and Amazon.com, off 2.1 percent to $530.76.
The National Retail Federation forecast a 3.7 percent holiday sales gain, marking a slowdown from the 4.1 percent uptick seen last year.
Jack Kleinhenz, the trade group’s chief economist, noted that, “While confidence data is encouraging, slower job growth in 2015, deflationary retail prices and the mix of consumer spending somewhat shifting toward big-ticket items and services, as well as the wild card in our government spending debates, will all contribute to the slower growth rate of sales expected for the holiday season.”