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Ugly February for Retail

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Move along, nothing to see here.

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February Same Store Sales are rolling in and, on the surface, seem roughly as dismal as expected. Should you care? Let's be honest here: not really.

Feb SSS are good for continuing trends, mild guidance on the consumer and that's about it. So, what have we learned this morning?

Continuing Trends:

Wal-Mart (WMT) looked good. The Big Boys from Bentonville continue to slowly build momentum. Frankly, at the size of WMT, the only kind of momentum you're going to get is "slow". Now that we've got a pulse in Goliath, the stock is acting accordingly (which means, sadly, avoiding Target (TGT))

Gaps (GPS) somehow, someway, continues to come in lower than perpetually lowered expectations. And Gap is nowhere near the worst news of the month. You want lousy? Have a little Chicos (CHS), give it a Zumiez (ZUMZ) chaser and curl yourself in a ball in the corner. Watch the Gap for reaction tells, otherwise tune in for Easter Sales when we'll have a better notion of this space.

Department Stores:

These were fairly lousy. Saks (SKS) looks good but Saks thinks of itself as a specialty chain. That leaves JC Penny (JCP), which was hideous, Nordies (JWN)... UGH, and Macy's (M), which stopped giving SSS data. Remember, Sears (SHLD) stopped giving SSS data about 40% higher.

Mild Guidance:

The consumer is drifting downward, which comes as a surprise to no living sensate created on earth. February is the slowest month in one of the slower quarters of the retail year. I like Wal-Mart, I think Gap is decent and I'd sniff at Costco (COST). Other than that, I'm holding my fire on retail stocks until we get deeper into Spring, if not Fall.

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No positions in stocks mentioned.

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