November 12, 2018

Consumers are spending and it's not just at Walmart and Amazon

Black Friday is less than two weeks away, and American consumers, buoyed by a strong economy and rising wages, are ready to spend.

That's good news for dominant retailers like Walmart (WMT) and Amazon (AMZN).

But the landscape is much bigger than those two giants, and Wall Street knows it.

Retailers ranging from Kohl's (KSS) and Dollar General (DG) to Ross Stores (ROST) and Tractor Supply (TSCO) are all trading near record highs, despite recent stock market volatility.

So is online crafts retailer Etsy (ETSY), thanks in large part to a more than 40% jump in sales for its most recent quarter. In fact, Etsy's stock is up 150% this year, even better than Amazon's 40% gain.

Rising consumer tide lifting many retail boats

Investors don't seem worried about US consumers suddenly derailing the economy.

On Thursday, the US Census Bureau will release retail sales numbers for October and economists are predicting a robust jump of 0.6%.

It's a potential boon for Walmart and numerous other retailers all set to release quarterly results and holiday outlooks later this week. Home Depot (HD), Macy's (M) and Nordstrom (JWN) will all report.

Blue chip consumer companies like Starbucks (SBUX), McDonald's (MCD) and Coca-Cola (KO) are all trading around all-time highs, too.

And it could get better.

Software firm Adobe is forecasting that online shopping sales will increase 14.8% during the holidays compared to a year ago.

And the National Retail Federation is predicting that holiday sales will be up between 4.3% and 4.8% over 2017, a higher rate than the past five years.

Not every retailer is doing well, of course.

But sad stories about Toys "R" Us and numerous other retailers that have gone out of business this year, not to mention troubled retail icons like bankrupt Sears (SHLDQ) and struggling JCPenney (JCP), are largely company specific tales.

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