Takeaways From Retail Earnings

Last week, major U.S. retailers reported 3Q results and gave indications for their all-important holiday shopping season outlooks.  Overall, results were mixed as shoppers don’t appear to be increasing spending, which leads to out-performance from the stores able to take market share.  In addition, retailers catering to lower income consumers such as Wal-Mart are struggling in comparison to mid-to-higher end retailers such as Macy’s (who also owns Bloomingdale’s).  Wal-Mart cut full year earnings guidance for the second quarter in a row while Macy’s maintained full year guidance and gave a positive outlook for holiday shopping.  Falling fuel prices around the country should give a welcomed boost to consumers wallets in the coming months and may overcome the frugalness being exhibited to date.  As we have mentioned in the past, consumer spending makes up more than two thirds of the U.S economy.  Based on the spending results thus far, it doesn’t appear that the consumer will drive economic growth sharply higher in the near term.  Whether that changes with holiday shopping is something that we will be watching closely.