Retail Happenings of the Week

Millennials don't like brands. No news there. But this piece about the rise of no-name attire has some projections that furthers the "Amazon Effect" narrative ((and helps explain the seemingly ludicrous Kroger Inc. ($K) clothing line)). "This year Amazon will leapfrog T.J. Maxx owner TJX Cos. and Macy’s Inc. to become the second-biggest seller of apparel and footwear in the U.S., Wells Fargo estimates." And "In some categories—like the active wear that Americans increasingly wear all day, whether or not they hit the gym—private labels combined account for 20 percent of the market, according to researcher NPD." Short Lululemon ($LULU)? Addition reason (see above) to short TJ Maxx ($TJX)?

If this stresses you out, at least you can double down on discounted protein and work off the anxiety, given the look of GNC Holdings Inc. ($GNC). What does this all mean for the malls? Not a whole lot of good. Hence, mud. Though some beg to differ to the tune of $25b.

Some predictions for 2018. The most obvious of which is that there'll be more retail bankruptcies to come in 2018. Just (maybe?) not Charlotte Russe, which has seemingly pulled off a miracle and kept itself out of bankruptcy court with a consensual deal with its lenders in hand. Last note: while "treasure hunt" retailers may not be impervious to Amazon, Costco Wholesale Corporation ($COST) very well may be: it reported a 17% increase in earnings, a 42.1% increase in e-commerce sales and steady membership rates. The stock popped nicely going into week's end.

Amazon > Costco

Costco Has Some Work to Do

Amazon (Getting its Own Category). As this point, Amazon merely needs to hint that it may enter a vertical and market caps will get sliced by 30%. It doesn't matter whether that's logistics (see UPS and Fedex) or pharma. The idea that Amazon Prime will affect wholesale retailers like Costco? Well, Costco's CEO said, "As it relates to the publicity and the news and the noise around Amazon and Whole Foods, all we can do is perform." That's not a confidence-inspiring answer by any stretch of the imagination. And the market reacted by sending shares down nearly 10%. Why? Membership renewals and margins were down. Revenue? Up. Net income? Up. That's what makes this market move so intriguing. The report actually wasn't terrible. But Amazon!