Oct 28, 2022
European retailers are on investors' naughty lists this Christmas
Oct 28, 2022
The Christmas shopping period is unlikely to bring relief to European retailers that sell anything from running shoes to handbags as the cost-of-living crisis squeezes consumers and shrinks disposable income.
The holiday season is traditionally a high point for the retail sector but even Europe's big names are warning of tough months ahead this year, and investors have punished them accordingly.
German sportswear company Adidas has slashed its full year guidance while world No.2 fashion retailer H&M has launched a 2 billion Swedish crown ($177 million) cost-saving drive.
Full-year profit at British online fashion retailer ASOS sank a whopping 90% from pandemic highs and its shares are the second worst performing of the top 350 UK-listed companies this year, wiping out two thirds of its market capitalisation.
Even companies such as Reckitt Benckiser, producing more mundane consumer-staple items like Dettol cleaning products and Durex condoms, and giant Unilever have warned of pressure on consumers.
On stock markets, the European retail sector has lost 40% of its value so far this year, more than twice the hit on the broader regional share index. Yet, JPMorgan and other strategists say the worst is yet to come for consumers and retailers alike.
"Consumers are under a lot of pressure and are going to reduce some of the discretionary spending, while costs for retailers are going up," said Ciaran Callaghan, Head of European Equity Research at Amundi, Europe's biggest asset manager.
Callaghan pointed to the rise in mortgages and other bills which is squeezing consumers while higher prices of raw materials, such as cotton, are driving up retailers' costs. Investors and strategists expect retailers' margins to be squeezed well into next year as cost pressures are further exacerbated by weakening currencies and collapsing consumer demand.
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