Spreading cheer at the start of Q3, retail sales grew for the third consecutive month in June. Sales rose 0.6% sequentially in June. The gain followed the previous month's downwardly revised 0.2% rise. June retail sales also beat economists' forecast of a 0.1% rise. On a year-over-year basis, sales soared 2.7%, gaining steam from May's 2.5% rise.
Eleven of the 13 key categories exhibited stronger sales in June than the previous month. Sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers (up 3.9%), gas stations (up 1.2%), online retailers (1.1%), miscellaneous store retailers (up 0.9%) and sporting goods and music stores (up 0.8%) were among the key drivers.
Furniture and home furnishings (up 0.5%), health and personal care stores (up 0.7%) and food and beverage stores (0.5%) are also worth a mention. Sales, barring automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services - termed as core sales - rose 0.5% last month following a 0.5% increase in May.
Wage gains may have helped in boosting retail sales lately. Also, a dovish Fed is perhaps acting as a tailwind, as a few more months of cheap dollar should boost consumers' purchases and the investing world. With this and some other upbeat economic reading, including job data, manufacturing numbers and inflation data, market watchers may again start wagering on an earlier-than-expected Fed rate hike.
Will the Momentum be Maintained?
With the University of Michigan's consumer sentiment for the U.S. coming in at 89.5 in July 2016 - lower than expected, and less than the earlier-month reading - retail spending may fail to enthuse investors in the coming month.
Investors should note that it is the lowest reading since April as "current conditions worsened, the future outlook reached the lowest since September of 2014 and inflation expectations rose." Notably, monthly consumer price inflation in the U.S. came in at 0.2%, the same as last month and lower than market expectations of 0.3%. The rise was mainly boosted by energy and shelter costs.
However, each of the three retail ETFs - the SPDR S&P Retail ETF (NYSEARCA:XRT), the Market Vectors Retail ETF (NYSEARCA:RTH) and the PowerShares Dynamic Retail Portfolio ETF (NYSEARCA:PMR) - lost despite the upbeat retail sales data. Following the release of data on July 15, 2016, XRT, RTH and PMR shed over 0.4%, about 0.6% and 0.3%, respectively, though things might improve in the coming days.
Still, for those investors who believe in "the trend is your friend" and wish to ride out the recent retail momentum, the following ETFs and stocks can be of help.
iShares Edge MSCI Multifactor Consumer Discretionary ETF (BATS:CNDF)
The fund focuses on inexpensive stocks, and financially sound and relatively smaller companies. Pure retailing has about 45% exposure, while the other corners of the consumer discretionary sector take the rest of the weight.
Amplify Online Retail ETF (NASDAQ:IBUY)
This new ETF comprises stocks that are into online retailing - one of the surging areas of the space. IBUY even added about 0.6% on July 15.
The Health and Fitness ETF (NASDAQ:FITS)
The fund tracks the performance of companies globally that are positioned to profit from servicing those participating in health and fitness activities. With health and personal care stores displaying an uptrend in the month, a look at this ETF seems reasonable. FITS was up about 0.1% on July 15.
To choose apt stocks for investors, we relied on a few criteria, meaning the stocks should belong to the retail-wholesale sector, should have a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) and the top VGM score of "A".
Beacon Roofing Supply, Inc. (NASDAQ:BECN)
This is one of the largest distributors of residential and non-residential roofing materials in the United States and Canada.
Dave & Buster's Entertainment, Inc. (NASDAQ:PLAY)
The company owns and operates dining and entertainment venues.
The Children's Place Retail Stores, Inc. (NASDAQ:PLCE)
This is a specialty retailer of apparel and accessories for children - from newborn to 12 years of age.