Sales for the week ended Saturday, Nov. 11 fell slightly from the prior week, but on a year-over-year basis results were strong as consumers kicked into a “holiday shopping mode,” according to the Retail Economist-Goldman Sachs Weekly Chain Store Sales Index.
And in a separate report, recent sales and earnings data support current assessments by analysts that consumer spending overall is higher than it has been in prior years as the market readies for Black Friday and the holiday shopping season. Still, there will be winners and losers and one analyst sees home-related spending outpacing other segments.
In the weekly sales report, Michael Niemira, chief economist of the Retail Economist LLC, said chain store sales dropped 0.6 percent last week compared to the previous week. Year-over-year, sales showed a 2.6 percent gain.
“After a very strong pace of sales for the week ending Nov. 4, sales receded somewhat in the latest week,” he noted. “Consumers are in a holiday shopping mode with just under half (45 percent) of all consumers who plan to buy Christmas gifts, already having started buying those gifts. Although the completion rate is low (15 percent) at this point in the season, it will notch up more rapidly as Black Friday and Cyber Monday occur.”
In a separate report from Jharonne Martis, director of consumer research at Thomson Reuters IBES, the analyst said a clear theme that has emerged is strong sales in the home goods, home improvement and consumer electronics segments — driven by consumers who are investing in their “nests.”
“The robust housing market continues to benefit Home Depot which is on track to post the strongest same-store sales estimate this week at 5.8 percent,” Martis said. “This is also above last year’s 5.5 percent SSS result, and on track for a 13.7 percent jump in earnings.”
Martis said that as consumers have been making investments “in fixing their homes, they are also hoping to improve the stay-at-home experience. As a result, Williams-Sonoma is expected to post a 3 percent SSS, and 6.2 percent growth in earnings. Meanwhile, analysts polled by Thomson Reuters are bullish on Best Buy, following the positive earnings results from tech companies Apple and Samsung.”
The analyst said that Best Buy is on track “to post a robust 5 percent SSS, above last year’s 1.8 percent result.”
The research report from Martis also noted that Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is well-positioned on the earnings front. “Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters are becoming more bullish on this retailer, which continues to experience improvement in its in-store traffic, while competing with Amazon,” Martis said.
This week, Wal-Mart announced plans to expand its fashion offerings via an online deal with Lord & Taylor.
“Over the past month, analysts have been raising earnings estimates for Wal-Mart,” Martis said. “It’s on track to post 13 consecutive quarters of positive same store sales and Thomson Reuters StarMine Earnings Quality model tells us that Wal-Mart’s earnings are coming from sustainable sources.”
For specialty apparel retailers, analysts at Telsey Advisory Group said in a research note today that the sector is experiencing “sequential” same-store sales gains — a good sign.
“For the third quarter, we look for continued sequential comp improvement against modest valuations and expectations,” the analysts said. “We see the potential for sequential improvement to continue from the second quarter into the fourth. For our specialty retail coverage, the average 3.4 percent comp decline in the first quarter on a two-year stacked basis improved to a 2.1 percent two-year decline in the second quarter. The balance of our companies reported that this sequential improvement continued into the third quarter as well.”
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