Retailers slipping as obstacles increase
NEW YORK — Shares of L Brands plunged 12 percent and other retailers are being dragged lower, with dismal sales numbers from the owner of Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works highlighting the hazardous landscape for the entire sector so far this year.
The company said Thursday that net sales in June fell 6 percent compared with last year during the same period, and same-store sales fell 9 percent, which is worse than industry analysts had expected.
It was part of a larger route in retail, the worst performing sector on the Standard & Poor’s 500 index.
Six of the 10 biggest decliners on the S&P 500 were retailers at midday.
Shares in Sears fell more than 7 percent and Urban Outfitters shares slid almost 5 percent.
The sector is going through a severe shakeout, and everyone is trying to find the most stable players.
Randal J. Konik, an industry analyst with Jeffries, was impressed with numbers put up by Bath & Body Works, but said there are already signs that keeping its winning streak going through next year will be difficult.
“Bottom Line: If you own LB shares get out,” Konik wrote Thursday, referring to L Brands’ ticker symbol. “If you don’t own LB shares, don’t buy them.”
Obstacles: Retailers are facing a host of obstacles. More and more, consumers are spending their money online rather than driving to malls or stores, and retailers’ earnings have reflected that shift in spending. Mall staples including Payless ShoeSource, Abercrombie & Fitch, BCBG and Wet Seal have either closed stores or filed for bankruptcy. More than twice as many stores have closed this year than at the same point last year, and bankruptcies are way up over last year’s pace.
On top of that, Amazon continues to gobble up everything in sight. The online giant has made a big push into clothing the past two years and now has its eyes trained on groceries, buying Whole Foods last month for $13.7 billion.
The Amazon-Whole Foods deal threw a wrench into Blue Apron’s IPO last week. The home meal kit company had hoped to start selling shares between $15 and $17 dollars but lowered the offering price to $10. Shares traded Thursday for around $8.
On Thursday, home-shopping hubs QVC and Home Shopping Network said they would combine in an effort to counter Amazon’s aggressive growth and the consumer shift toward internet-based retail.
Consumer spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of U.S. economic activity, has also been lackluster so far this year. The government reported last week that for January through March, consumer spending rose at dismal 1.1 percent annual pace, the slowest since the second quarter of 2013.