Shoppers spend freely heading into the holidays
Published 8:14 am Wednesday, November 21, 2018
NEW YORK — Shoppers are spending freely heading into the holidays, but heavy investments and incentives like free shipping by retailers are giving Wall Street pause.
Target Inc., Kohl’s Corp., Best Buy Co. and TJX Cos. all reported strong sales at stores opened at least a year. That’s a key measure of health for a retailer. Online sales also surged. Target reported a 49 percent increase in online sales, which was better than expected.
But shares of Target and the parent of TJ Maxx took a hit after reporting that their third-quarter profit results were squeezed by higher e-commerce costs. Kohl’s delivered strong third-quarter results, but it issued a cautious annual profit forecast. Best Buy, which has been on a winning streak, couldn’t win over investors even as it boosted its annual earnings guidance.
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“There are clearly a bit of two worlds. Everything we’re seeing about the consumer is very positive,” Best Buy CEO Hubert Joly told reporters on a conference call Tuesday. “Consumer confidence is at an all-time high…unemployment is incredibly low, wages are going up.”
But, he cautioned, “The financial market can be a different picture and we’ll see how it evolves.”
The National Retail Federation, the nation’s largest retail trade group, is expecting holiday retail sales in November and December — excluding automobiles, gasoline and restaurants — to increase as much as 4.8 percent over 2017 for a total of $720.89 billion.