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Retail stocks hit hard by dismal holiday sales

As investors continued to punish retail companies after the lackluster holiday season, most of the leading store operators witnessed stock selloff Thursday. It was triggered by the downbeat sales numbers released by Macy’s (M) earlier in the day. It seems nothing worked in favor of the retailers this time and positive factors such as the booming economy and strong job market failed to lift consumer sentiment.

The dismal results prompted Macy’s to revise down its outlook for fiscal 2018 and currently expects store sales to remain flat year-over-year. According to the management, the softness was more visible in certain home furnishing items, sportswear, and cosmetics.

Among others, Kohl’s (KSS) reported a significantly slower increase in holiday sales. Though Target (TGT) said sales growth accelerated from last year, the company maintained its mediocre outlook for fiscal 2018.

Macy’s lost more than 18% of its market value Thursday and closed the session just above $25. Kohl’s stock ended the day’s trading down 5%, paring a part of the recent gains, and continued to lose in the after-hours. Target’s relatively better sales numbers did not help it and the stock was down 2.85%. The case of JCPenney (JPC) and Dillard’s (DDS) was not different.

Brexit crisis could hurt UK retailers next year

Apparently, the overall retail performance did not match the market’s high expectation, which was fueled by households’ growing spending power. The downward pattern in the sales of department stores –  the worst affected retail segment this season – clearly shows more and more brands and shifting to the direct-to-customer business model and that e-commerce companies are eating into the market share of traditional store operators.

While it might not be a viable option to offer additional discounts going forward, the one thing department store operators need to do is to ramp up their e-commerce platforms so as to counter the digital onslaught.

 

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