May ended on a slightly bitter note for U.S. stocks, which were dogged by higher oil prices, returning concerns of a rate hike and pre-summer profit-taking.
But for the year-to-date period, U.S. equities showed gains.
At the closing bell on Tuesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 89 points, or 0.5 percent, to finish at 17,784 while the S&P 500 shed 0.1 percent to 2,096. The S&P Retail Industry Group closed the day down flat at 1,299.
Some of the top retail gainers at the bell included: Michael Kors Holdings Ltd. with a 2.2 percent gain to $42.72; Seritage Growth Properties with a 2.4 percent increase to $46.21, and Christopher & Banks Corp. with a 2.6 percent increase to $1.95.
The decliners included Movado Group Inc. with a 7.7 percent drop to $20.52; Tilly’s Inc. with a 5.5 percent decrease to $5.90, and Citi Trends Inc. with a 3.9 percent drop to $15.55.
For the month, the Dow closed May flat while the S&P 500 was up 1.4 percent and the S&P Retailing Industry Group Index showed a 1 percent gain. For the year-to-date period, equities are trending even higher. The Dow is up 2.2 percent while the S&P 500 is up 2.8 percent. The S&P Retailing Industry Group Index has advanced 3 percent.
For the past six months, fashion apparel and retail stocks have been more volatile as traders have pulled back during signs of top-line weakness, but jump right back in when broader economic news — such as improving employment conditions — warrant. Concerns over waning tourism dollars and the ongoing shifts in consumer spending away from apparel and accessories has also impacted the sector.
As a result, the WWD Global Stock Tracker is down 0.4 percent for the six-month period with 72 of the 100 issues in the tracker declining as 28 advance. The leading gainers for the period included Tumi Holdings Inc., up 52 percent to $26.77; Ulta with a 40 percent gain to $64.69, and Lululemon Athletica Inc. with a 35 percent increase to $65.
On the declining side for the six-month period are Under Armour Inc. with a 56 percent drop to $37.92; Global Brands Group with a 48 percent decline to 10 cents, and Trinity Ltd. with a 47 percent decrease to 8 cents.
On the consumer spending front, Chris Christopher, director of consumer economics at IHS Global Insight, said that government data for April showed a monthly gain in consumer spending that “was strongest in almost seven years.”
“Consumers became cautious in the first three months of the year due to volatility in the equity markets,” he said in his research note. “In March, income gains outpaced spending gains sending the saving rate up higher. Americans got shaken up by the poor performance of the stock market in the first quarter sending the saving rate from 5.3 percent in December to 5.9 percent in March. In April consumer spending surged ahead, sending the saving rate down to 5.4 percent.”
But where is their money going? Apparel sales have been stagnant for many retailers. Instead, consumers seem to be dining out more.
In a report on the impact of lower gas prices, Deborah Weinswig, managing director at Fung Global Retail & Technology, said “total spending on food services recently exceeded total spending on groceries for the first time ever. Dining out is one of the discretionary expenses that consumers can now spend on more often with the extra discretionary income they have gained thanks to lower gas prices.”