The secret’s out… Brick & Mortar retail in the United States is in trouble.
Big department and specialty retail stores keep reporting abysmal numbers for the most part… and stating how technology and Amazon are killing them and how they plan to turn the tables and return their stores to growth and profitability.
Ain’t gonna happen.
To be sure, some retailers not only get it, but they’re also using technology to their advantage… and their charts reflect as much. But most have absolutely no idea what to do and, as a result, keep trying to do the same old things… but harder.
It’s not working.
In this article, a journalist noted the terrible condition of several retailers… even noting that Macy’s has an outlet section inside it’s flagship store called Last Act!
She went on to quote an industry consultant who noted that there are 3 pivotal points that lots of retailers seem to be missing on these days:
- Ease – the ability to quickly find and select product… making customers dig through piles is the antithesis of ease and makes it nearly impossible to charge full price… for anything.
- Image – the look and feel of the store… admittedly, I hate shopping… but in the rare instance that I’m in a store, its a virtual certainty that I will spend $0 if the store is a mess.
- Inspiration – the ensembles that most people are hoping to replicate when they make purchases… most stores still do a pretty good job at this part… but it can’t overcome the first 2.
Personally, I think this is a natural result of retailers selling less and less at full price… which means they can afford less and less payroll… which makes it harder and harder to keep the floors and racks tidy… which leads to less and less full price sales… and so on.
There is an out though. The retailers who have embraced technology and made it a core pillar in their strategy are reaping tremendous results. If more Brick & Mortars realize and embrace technology along with the special advantage having actual stores can be (and act accordingly), you might see the tide turn.
Until then however…
Here are the charts (quarterly) of several retailers.
Department (Big Box) Stores
Macy’s — Price broke through support up around $47.
JWN — Price tried to bounce last quarter, but we’ve already broken that low and price looks set to go lower.
JCP — I’ve been a long time seller of JC Penney… and nothing has changed. Rallies (to the extent that there are any) are to be sold.
DDS — Dillard’s looks much like other traditional department stores… like it has a problem…
SHLD — Sears falls into the same category as JC Penney… a perma short.
KSS — Different ticker… same look.
ROST — Ross Stores looks very different from the other retail names… I’m guessing because they have already embraced technology and using their square footage well.
The so-called culprit
AMZN — Lots of people think Amazon is a $1,000 stock. It is indeed a juggernaut, but if retailers make better use of their natural advantages, they can compete more effectively with them.
Big Box Discounters
BIG — Big Lots seems to realize that its a technology and logistics company…
TGT — so too Target
TJX — and TJ Maxx
WMT — and to a lesser extent, even Walmart
CHS — A Wall Street darling from 2000 until 2006, Chico’s Fas has likely seen its best days.
COH — The jury is still out on Coach
GPS — After spending nearly a decade between $8 and $25, Gap Stores broke out to the upside and nearly made it to a new all time high. It now looks set to break out to the downside.
URBN — Urban Outfitters looks to be in trouble on a chart basis… Price needs to hold above $18.
TIF — Tiffany ran to several new all time highs coming out of the 2008 recession. It’s coming back to support here and needs to hold or suffer the fate of other retailers.
RL — Ralph Lauren rode the years following the ’08 recession well also, but the realities of retail seem to be asserting in the business.
ULTA — Ulta Salon knows its market… and delivers… and its chart reflects that.
LULU — Even with missteps, Lululemon seems positioned to establish new all time highs yet again.
So what does all of this mean from a chartist’s perspective?
Not much… it simply “explains” the moves on the charts.
But we don’t much need explanations now do we?