A weak profit outlook across most sectors coupled with a dip in crude oil stalled stocks for most of last week, but overall, the major indices have recovered from the steep losses see in February.
And despite an unfavorable top-line outlook from Fitch Ratings on Macy’s Inc. and Kohl’s Corp., the retail segment is keeping pace with the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 in the year-to-date period.
At the closing bell on Friday, the Dow closed down 0.2 percent to 17,897 while the S&P 500 shed 0.1 percent to finish at 2,080. The S&P 500 Retailing Industry Group Index, however, rose 0.6 percent to 1,287.
For the week, the Dow finished up 1.8 percent while the S&P 500 gained 1.5 percent. The S&P 500 Retail Industry Group Index closed the week up 2.8 percent. In the retail segment, traders keyed into some buy opportunities that drove up the index.
For the year to date period, the Dow is now up 2.8 percent, which is fully recovered from a 15 percent drop in February. The S&P 500 is up 2.1 percent year-to-date, and so is the S&P 500 Retailing index.
Regarding the WWD Global Stock Tracker, the composite is up 2.3 percent in the six-month period. But there are more decliners (64) than gainers (36). The top gainers include Tumi Holdings Inc. with a six-month gain of 55 percent to $26.67 and Vince Holding Corp. with a 50 percent gain to $6.43. Abercrombie & Fitch Co. is up 40 percent to $28.51.
On the declining side is The Men’s Wearhouse with a 58 percent drop to $13.87 and Under Armour Inc. with a 56 percent decline to $43.08. Iconix Brand Group Inc. is down 46 percent to $8.46.
Looking forward, global investors are eyeing the strength of the fashion apparel sector as consumers continue shying aware from buying clothes.
Amid this change is a drop in retail sales, which fell 0.3 percent in March. But IHS Global Insight economists noted that this followed a robust February with sales that “were considerably stronger than expected, as unseasonably warm weather spurred restaurant sales while an increase in gasoline pump prices boosted gas station sales.”
Still, that doesn’t help apparel retailers who are also increasingly under pressure from fashion retailers. Wells Fargo Securities equity analyst Ike Boruchow noted how Forever 21, H&M and Zara continue to disrupt the market while “exacerbating apparel’s loss of wallet share.”
“Over the course of several decades, shifting consumer spending patterns have resulted in a significant loss of wallet share by the apparel industry,” the analyst said. “Today, apparel accounts for just 2.5 percent of total consumer spending [less than half of what it was 60 years ago]. Amid this backdrop, the aforementioned fast fashion retailers have aggressively penetrated the U.S. market, providing fresh-off-the-runway fashion at a fraction of the price. This allows consumers to reduce their apparel spending, without sacrificing the level of fashion or the number of units purchased.”
Boruchow said this dynamic will likely continue as more fast fashion retailers flood the market, “particularly the disruptively low-priced Primark concept — [which] opened their first U.S. stores at the end of 2015, with plans to open seven more over the next two years.”