Retail

Department Stores Start 2018 With A Bang On Wall Street

So far, so good for department stores in 2017: Early holiday sales results have spurred enthusiasm on Wall Street, which has turned into a happy New Year stock rally. JCPenney closed up nearly 11 percent, and Macy’s saw a 4.5 percent bounce, while Kohl’s and Nordstrom ended the first day of the trading year up 4 percent. Even Sears was up 5.5 percent.

“Everybody had a better Christmas than we thought they were gonna have, and that includes Kohl’s, Penney’s and Macy’s,” Jan Kniffen, CEO of J. Rogers Kniffen Worldwide Enterprises, said Tuesday (Jan. 2) on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”

However, that isn’t exactly universally good news, Kniffen said: Store comps were not necessarily positive, they were just better than what people were expecting.

The news comes after a highly succesful holiday shopping season, where sales climbed between 4 percent and 5 percent, depending on one’s preferred estimates.

A number of department store CEOs, including Jeffrey Gennette of Macy’s and Kevin Mansell of Kohl’s, have indicated positive holiday sales growth preceding their fourth-quarter earnings reports.

“I think there is a lot of excitement about the robust holiday sales numbers, and investors believe that this will have helped the department store sector,” Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail, told CNBC. “However, it is … very much a short-term boost and does not mean the structural issues with the sector have been fully resolved,” he cautioned.

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