Apr 7, 2017
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RBC report analyzes dwindling sales growth rates for US retailers

Apr 7, 2017

After an already dire start to the year – with Wet Seal, BCBG Max Azria, Gordmans, Rue 21, and Payless Shoe Source shutting down business – investors are predicting the next round of retail stores to hit serious turbulence. RBC Capital Markets has come up with a list of nine retailers likely to suffer the largest revenue deceleration, which includes quite a few very familiar names. 

Lululemon was named one of the brands to watch over the course of 2017 - Lululemon

Leading the list is the Ascena Retail Group, owner of Lane Bryant, Ann Taylor, Dress Barn, and Catherines. RBC says its 2016/2017 revenue growth rate could drop by as much as 49%. This may come as no surprise to investors - even though Ascena made a huge investment in Ann Taylor group in 2015, the company has had dreadful quarter after dreadful quarter. 
Under Armour also figures high up on the watch list, spot number two, with a forecast of -11% decrease in revenue growth for next year, thanks to consumers’ decreasing interest in athleisure. Even the one-time wonder talent Lululemon will likely see its revenue growth rate dwindle, contracting up to -5%, according to RBC analysts.

And despite all the good news about Coach – 100-year anniversary fanfare, new 5th Avenue Flagship, potential acquisition of Kate Spade – RBC is predicting a -6% decline in sales growth for this fiscal year.

More surprising entries on the list are and an overall stellar fiscal year in 2016. While Ulta revenues grew a whole 24% for 2016, RBC predicts that may contract by up to -4% this year, which goes to say that multi-brand beauty stores don’t necessarily possess the secret for surviving the new retail landscape either.

Debt expert Fitch Ratings has recently announced a grim outlook for their US retail portfolio. Currently, the US retail default rate is at 1%, but Fitch expects that rating to hit 9% over the next 12 months, equivalent to $6 billion worth of debt.

Brick and mortar retailers have been taking hit after hit, driven by a number of catalysts. Firstly, the temptation of online shopping has consumers opting to shop on e-commerce sites over more traditional brick-and-mortar stores. Which leads to the second reason – low foot traffic in malls has made it tough for retailers to get customers in the doors. Furthermore, Fitch has predicted that the increased number of discounted retailers (a category that includes off-price and fast fashion stores) has caused yet another blow to more traditional and single-brand brick-and-mortar retailers. 

At this point, far too many signs indicate that 2017 is shaping up to be something of a tsunami for the U.S. retail landscape.

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