Shares of retailers suffered broad, and in many cases sharp selloffs Thursday, as a number of downbeat holiday-period sales reports sparked concerns over the health of the sector and consumer.
The SPDR S&P Retail exchange-traded fund XRT, -1.60% slumped 1.9% in afternoon trade, with 71 of 95 equity components losing ground, to buck the gains seen in the broader market.
Macy’s Inc.’s stock M, -17.69% plunged 17.7%, the biggest one-day drop since it went public 27 years ago. The stock was the biggest loser in the sector, and on the New York Stock Exchange, after the department store chain slashed its profit, sales, inventory and gross margin outlook, as holiday sales weakened in mid-December, and didn’t pick back up to expected patterns until the week of Christmas.
Chief Executive Jeff Gennette said the revised outlook comes as it will take “the necessary steps in January to ensure a clean inventory position” ahead of fiscal 2019.
The next biggest decliner was Barnes & Noble Inc.’s stock BKS, -15.76% which plummeted 12.6% after the bookseller said same-store sales rose 4% between Black Friday and New Year’s Day, but said it may cut its earnings guidance by as much as 10%, because of increased advertising spending and promotional activity.
See also: Barnes & Noble’s Top20 holiday gift ideas includes only one 1 book.
The sector’s tumble comes after it outperformed the broader market over the past few weeks, as upbeat employment data provided hopes of a strong holiday sales season. The retail ETF (XRT) rallied 15% from the Dec. 21 through Wednesday, while the S&P 500 index SPX, +0.45% gained 7.0% over the same time. See Economic Report.
Thursday’s reports throws some cold water on the bullish crowd.
Wolfe Research analyst Adrienne Yih said 2018 may have been the “peak season” for retailers, as an increase in mall traffic was against easy comparisons from a year ago and pent-up demand. And despite relatively clean inventory, there was no evidence of broad-based pricing power.
“Retailers were as, if not more, promotional than prior year and ‘bought the comp,’” Yih wrote in a note to clients, with “comp” referring to same-store sales growth. “Tax reform savings were reinvested in store-related wages and deferred capital spending—both contributing to higher fixed cost infrastructure than before tax reform—adding to greater deleverage risk.”
Among other big decliners, Kohl’s Corp. shares KSS, -4.81% shed 6.3%, after the company bumped up its profit outlook, but reported holiday-period same-store sales growth that decelerated to 1.2% from 6.9% a year ago.
The Buckle Inc.’s stock BKE, -4.84% slumped 7.1%, after the apparel and footwear retailer reported holiday-period same-store sales that fell 0.2%, while net sales for the period declined 6.7%. L Brands Inc. shares dropped 7.1%, after the Victoria’s Secret parent reported flat same-store sales for December and a slight decline in net sales.
Elsewhere, Target Corp.’s stock TGT, -2.85% shed 3.4%, turning lower ahead of the open as it got caught up in the sector’s downdraft, despite reporting accelerating same-store sales growth and affirming its profit outlook. The company said Chief Financial Officer Cathy Smith will retire.
See also: Target will be ‘one of the top’ holiday performers: Moody’s.
Among other more-active retailer shares, J.C. Penney Co. Inc. JCP, -4.48% fell 3.7%, after saying Wednesday it will close more stores, Walmart Inc. WMT, +0.07% slipped 0.4%, Abercrombie & Fitch Co. ANF, -8.24% tumbled 9.0%, Gap Inc. GPS, -3.11% declined 3.7% and Amazon.com Inc. AMZN, -0.19% shed 0.4%.
Bucking the trend, Costco Wholesale Corp.’s stock COST, +0.35% was little changed after the membership-based warehouse retailer said December same-store sales grew 6.1% while net sales jumped 7.8%, and Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. shares BBBY, +16.56% shot up 15% after the home furnishings retailer beat fiscal third-quarter profit expectations and provided an upbeat outlook.