New York Post


Store shares soar as holiday rebound causes ...


Santa Claus finally came for retailers this year — and Wall Street couldn’t be happier to see him.

After a brutal 2017 marked by store closings and dwindling traffic at shopping malls, retailers rang up a 4.9 percent holiday sales gain — the largest year-over-year increase since 2011, according to data released Tuesday by Mastercard SpendingPu­lse.

Shares of department stores — which have taken a beating this year amid a smattering of bankruptci­es and growing fears about Amazon — surged on the heady numbers released Tuesday, with Macy’s rising 4.6 percent, JCPenney up 5.4 percent and Kohl’s up 6 percent.

Since Nov. 1, Macy’s shares have rallied 43 percent and the Gap is up 34 percent, while Walmart and Costco are up 13.6 percent and 15.8 percent, respective­ly. Compare that with Amazon shares, which have risen just 6.5 percent during the same timeframe.

Pent-up demand appeared to drive much of the year-end shopping frenzy. Big spending on electronic­s, appliances and home furnishing­s helped to drive holiday sales to $682 billion, according to the National Retail Federation.

As usual, online shopping fueled the increase, climbing 18.1 percent versus last year for the crucial period between Nov. 1 and Dec. 24, according to Mastercard.

This time, however, it wasn’t just Amazon raking in the gains. The Seattlebas­ed behemoth is expected to claim a staggering 44 percent of all US internet shopping this year, according to eMarketer.

But Macy’s, Walmart and Costco took their share of the online bonanza, too, as they beefed up their internet operations to pull off successful “omnichanne­l” sales strategies, according to Ana Serafin Smith of the National Retail Federation, a Washington-based trade group.

“E-commerce is more than just Amazon,” Smith said, noting that numerous department stores and bigbox discounter­s alike “drasticall­y improved” their Web sites ahead of the holiday season.

“This is the first year that omnichanne­l was a winner,” Sarah Quinlan, senior vice president of marketing insights at Mastercard, told The Post.

Shoppers did their usual routine of browsing in stores before buying online, Quinlan said. But this time, they ended up buying what they liked on the stores’ own sites, rather than on Amazon.

Brick-and-mortar retailers also likely got a boost from chronic procrastin­ators. Last-minute shopping by men largely explains, for example, why there was a 5.9 percent jump in jewelry sales this year, according to Quinlan.

On that note, retail’s “second season” is just beginning, says Craig Johnson of Consumer Growth Partners.

The week between Christmas and New Year’s is “when shoppers get a second bite at the apple” as they redeem gift cards and shop sales, Johnson said, projecting $73 billion in spending this week.

“2017 has shown that consumer spending, after a slow start last winter, has been slowly gathering momentum, due to rising incomes, the wealth effect from record stock prices, and a 44-year low in new unemployme­nt claims,” Johnson said.

 ??  ?? Retail investors are making like it’s Black Friday all over again — as longtime laggards soar on boffo holiday sales.
Retail investors are making like it’s Black Friday all over again — as longtime laggards soar on boffo holiday sales.

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