Despite temperatures soaring well above 85 degrees across the country, however there's a chill and it's coming from the American consumer. In light of same store sales numbers that will be reported later this morning, analysts are estimating ( by way of Reuters) May comps will be up 2.6 percent a mere whimper compared to March and April numbers. What gives? A lot of factors. For example, March and April's push to purchase reflected a phenom. I like to call "frugal fatigue" also known (to the economist set) as pent up demand. In addition, Easter came a week earlier compared to the previous year. Also, fears of Euro debt contagion, BP oil spill environmental disaster, stock market volatility and unemployment numbers are causing the American consumer to spend less and save more. The result- deparment store comps are expected to be up 0.9 percent and 1.1 percent while teen retailers are expected to take a nose dive by 2.6 percent. In light of uncertaintly, there are retailers I think will weather the storm:
1) Norstrom ( JWN)
Reasons why: Multi- channel increases of 13.9%, Nordstrom Rack highly successful for them opened 6 new stores in the last quarter and inventory mix is STELLAR (read: perfectly merchandised jeggings, denim and DvF dresses).
2) JCrew (JCG):
Reasons why: Posted strong first quarter results, with net income doubling to more than $44.7 million and comp store sales rising 15 percent. Raised guidance for fiscal year 2010 earnings from $2.35 to $2.45 a diluted share. Hi-fi partnerships with designers such as Belstaff, Essie nail polish, Hunter wellies, Fallon jewelry and Net-a-porter will give J.Crew fashion street cred and presence in over 170 different countries without overhead cost.
3) TJMaxx (TJX):
Reasons why: Analysts expect comp store sales to come in at 2.7% and by the looks of store traffic from my numerous visits, assortments and inventory control they are in a good position. Also, Carol Meyrowitz announced at the annual meeting on Wednesday TJX is rolling out another off-price retail concept set to launch in 3Q 2011. One thing to be wary of is their plan to invest almost all of thier $750 million of capital budget in Marmaxx and TJX Europe. Biut with a rise in first quarter profits of 58.4% to $331 million, euro currency fears may not have much of an effect on this retail behemoth.
4) Blue Nile (NILE):
Reasons why: According to the CEO in an interview on CNBC, net sales increased 18.7% to $74.1 million operating income grew 23.3 % to $3.6 million in the 4th quater. In addition, international sales grew 71.4% and there is iscounting on top of sinking diamond prices compared to gold: $NILE’s prices are 20% - 60% lower than retail because they don’t have infrastructure of the store.