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Retail spending stays bifurcated even as COVID-19 trends slightly better


U.S. daily COVID-19 cases and deaths have moderated recently after increasing through most of June and July, notes JPMorgan in its weekly summary on the pandemic.

“In the past 3 days, cases averaged 51.4K and deaths were 1.2K. In the past 7 days, cases averaged 52.2K and deaths were 1.0K,” notes the firm.

Still, other nations are further along in their recovery. Over the same week, South Korea only had one COVID-19 death and Germany averaged below ten a day. Both countries also have fewer hospitalizations per capita to drain healthcare resources.

Cowen has been tracking U.S. consumer sentiment throughout the pandemic and notes some sequential improvement in the comfort level in returning to hotels, restaurants and gyms, but not enough to see traffic return to 2019 levels anytime soon. “We saw broad stability across metrics and some signs of seq. improvement even as respondents expect to be affected for months to come. E-commerce spending remained elevated & spending intentions remained strong. Establishment reopening pace has slowed, but layoffs have lightened,” reports the firm.

Last week’s retail sales report number came in strong considering the level of social distancing going in the U.S. Of course, a breakdown of the categories shows the strength is still pretty top-heavy with consumers spending heavily on groceries, home improvement, outdoors activities and e-commerce while some traditional categories tied to brick-and-mortar lag. Most analysts expect the bifurcation to continue until a vaccine is fully developed, which Big Pharma execs anticipate to be sometime in 2021.

For investors, if you take emotion out of it and look at Quant Ratings, the top consumer discretionary picks include Nautilus (NYSE:NLS), Vista Outdoors (NYSE:VSTO) and Wayfair (NYSE:W). See the full list.





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