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Homewhats workingNo coal here! Retail's holiday winners

No coal here! Retail’s holiday winners

It's hard to drown out all the negative noise coming from the retail sector this year.

Nearly every day brings another slam to the industry, with the most recent bad news coming from Best Buy, which said that comparable-store sales in the U.S. fell 0.9 percent over the holiday period. The electronics chain is just the latest name on a growing list of retailers that delivered disappointing holiday results—a list that already includes such names as , , and .

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According to the National Retail Federation, holiday sales rose 3.8 percent in 2013, missing forecasts of tepid 3.9 percent growth.

An employee rings up a customer at Macy's in New York.Ron Antonelli | Bloomberg | Getty Images

"This year, it felt like the consumer was more in control than the retailers were," said Bob Moncrieff, PwC's retail and consumer advisory leader.

Still, it wasn't all bad for retailers this holiday. The high-income consumer continued to shop, and was "very active and willing to spend a significant amount on luxury items," said Hana Ben-Shabat, a partner in the retail practice of the consulting firm A.T. Kearney.

The middle-income shopper also spent, but was particular about price and product, saving their purchases for special items and good deals.

"I think we are at a point that consumer behavior is much more complicated than it used to be," she said.

Below is a list of companies that bucked the trend and delivered strong results in November and December.

High-end jewelers Tiffany and Zale

Fine jewelry performed particularly well, benefiting and , which both posted same-store sales gains that were boosted by avoiding discounts.

Analysts pointed to Tiffany's momentum in North America, calling attention to its compelling fashion jewelry offerings and favorable gold costs.

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"The fashion jewelry category has improved with new product introductions, particularly in the Atlas collection, helped by the company's stepped up marketing of the product at holiday," Wells Fargo analyst Paul Lejuez said in a research note.


Midtier department store outperformed the sector by posting comparable-store sales gains of 3.6 percent for the November to December period, prompting it to reiterate its earnings forecast for 2013. Handbags, activewear, coats, dresses, and men's suits and shoes were among the best-performing categories, and the retailer's higher-end Bloomingdale's stores also performed well, management said.


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