With viable vaccines coming soon, it feels like the right time for many retailers to think ahead to 2021 as a year of possible recovery, at least to some degree. People who have been locked inside for months will likely fuel a boom caused by pent up demand, as they move from their couches back into the world. And it’s equally feasible that they won’t want to do it in sweatpants.
Shopping will likely shift away from home goods at Bed Bath & Beyond and do-it-yourself projects at Home Depot to beauty, perfume, clothing, footwear and travel. In-store shopping will likely see an uptick as consumers head back in-store in search of in-person experiences once again.
Barron’s recently noted a significant upturn in retail stocks as investors considered a “post-Covid world”. According to the piece, last Monday individual retailer stocks were jumping by double digits. Department stores Kohl’s (KSS), Macy’s (M) and Nordstrom (JWN) were up 17% or more, and American Eagle Outfitters (AEO) and Gap (GPS) were also seeing big gains. Ulta Beauty (ULTA) and Estee Lauder (EL) were rallying in kind, with all three major off-price retailers— Burlington Stores (BURL), Ross Stores (ROST), and TJX Cos. (TJX) - up in the mid- to high teens.
But this got me thinking -- if the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that the metrics we used pre-pandemic to value retail companies need to shift.