The markets were flat to up slightly at the opening bell, which makes it unlikely that the Dow Jones Industrial Average will reach 20,000 this year. And for retail stocks, trading volume was low as investors waited on the sidelines.
At the open, the Dow was up 0.1 percent to 19,855 while the S&P 500 was also up 0.1 percent to 2,252. The S&P 500 Retailing Industry Index was flat at 1,362.
In the retail and fashion apparel segment, Kate Spade & Co. was down 2.9 percent to $17.34 while Bon-Ton Stores Inc. fell 2.8 percent to $1.40 at the open. Stage Stores Inc. dropped 0.8 percent to $4.56. There were some bright spots, though. Sears Holdings Corp. was up 6.7 percent at the open following a statement from the retailer that it had a secured letter of credit. Bebe Stores Inc. was up 2.2 percent at the open to $5.22 while New York & Co. was up 3.9 percent to $2.11.
The lackluster interest in the sector comes as the holiday shopping season winds down. In a report from the NPD Group, analysts at the firm noted that the “final holiday shopping push appears to be on a delay compared to last year, and deep discounts further delayed the benefits for retailers.”
NPD’s weekly point-of-sale results showed that dollar sales in the seventh week of the 2016 holiday shopping season “were 11 percent lower than the same week in 2015. Cumulatively, dollar sales in the first seven weeks of the 2016 holiday shopping season were 4 percent behind the first seven weeks of the 2015 holiday season.”
And in a separate report from Telsey Advisory Group, markdowns continued in the retail checks down by the firm’s analysts. “Sale is the word that correlates to post-Christmas and department stores,” the analyst said adding that, for example, Nike is on sale at J.C. Penney and Kohl’s with 25 percent off on selected styles. And at Nordstrom, the company debuted its “Save up to 50% off” campaign, which includes all categories and runs to Jan. 2.