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Clothing and electronics retailers report this week, analyst caution



Over the past two years, clothing and electronics haven’t exactly been a big priority for shoppers, as they try to cover higher-priced groceries and gasoline. In the week ahead, results from retail chains like Macy’s Inc., Urban Outfitters Inc., TJX Cos. and Best Buy Co. will offer an update on whether consumer appetites might get any more discretionary this year.

Caution still prevails on Wall Street, despite growth in holiday-season spending. They’ve cited fluctuations in mall traffic, warmer winter weather, a struggling younger consumer and difficulties staying relevant on fashion. Expectations have been high for off-price retailers, some analysts say.

Macy’s
M,
+1.99%

reports results on Tuesday, amid leadership changes and shareholder drama.

The department store last month turned down a takeover bid from Arkhouse Management and Brigade Capital. However, May’s management said it was “open to opportunities” to serve shareholders, and this month, it received board nominations from Arkhouse, and the retailer may be weighing offers elsewhere. Tony Spring became Macy’s new chief executive this month, and prior to that, the company said it would cut corporate staff and close a handful of stores.

Meanwhile, TD Cowen analyst Oliver Chen, in a research note this month, said he was “cautious” on Macy’s heading into the results. He cited “challenging mall traffic trends and work-in-progress assortment for private label brands.”

Urban Outfitters
URBN,
+1.54%

also reports on Tuesday, as the younger customers at its namesake brand struggle with higher prices and remain somewhat uninspired by that chain’s clothing assortment. However, the company appointed a new president of the company’s North America Urban Outfitters stores, and said it got a bump in holiday-period sales.

Still, that jump was driven by its Free People and Anthropologie stores, which cater to a wealthier shopper. And Jefferies analysts in January said that “as UO’s main customer remains challenged, and the brand attempts to re-resonate with its customer base, we remain cautious ahead, as the brand attempts to return to top-line growth.”

Off-price chain TJX
TJX,
+0.27%
,
the parent of T.J. Maxx and Marshalls, reports Wednesday. With prices for basics elevated, William Blair analysts this month said TJX stood to benefit from a years-long “department store to off-price migration” amid broader challenges for department stores that try to split the difference between luxury shopping and bargain hunting.

But they also noted a year-long run higher in the company’s stock, and said many investors had been ”hiding out” in shares of off-price chains over the past two years amid the inflation storm and recession worries. Stronger results from store chains that don’t discount as much could spur those investors to flee the off-price names and chase bigger gains elsewhere,…



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