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Consumer Staples Fall On Slow Holiday Sales

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The markets are back open from the Christmas holiday and after a some slight gains in the morning, the market was down 45 points at one point. Some of this may be attributed to the consumer staples and consumer discretionary sectors.

Consumer Staples Fall On Slow Holiday Sales

Kicking off the weak news was the MasterCard Advisors Spending Pulse report before Christmas Day.

Encompassing eight weeks from Oct. 28 through Christmas Eve, this figure is based on sales activity through the Mastercard Inc (NYSE:MA) payments network along with estimates for other payment forms such as cash and checks; it does not include restaurants or automobile, grocery and gasoline sales.

For this year, it showed that retail sales only increased 0.7% as compared to 2011’s figure. This also represents the slowest growth rate since 2008, coming in lower than analysts’ 3 to 4 percent expectations for growth, reported NBC News.com.

Michael McNamara, Spending Pulse’s vice president of research and analysis said of the disappointing number to the Wall Street Journal that “it’s a lost season” and added, “Sales and volume are about the same as last year, but the growth was marginal.”

The low number was also attributed to sales declines in the mid-Atlantic states that had been affected by superstorm Sandy.

But on a positive SpendingPulse note, online sales during the time period jumped 8.4% from 2011 to $48 billion.

This however may not offset retail consulting firm Customer Growth Partners number. Via its president Craig Johnson he went so far as to say this year appeared to be the “worst holiday-shopping season” in three years after his company’s figure showed that sales had increased 2.8% vs. 2011’s 5.8% rise.

The firm’s estimates come from government data, retailer information and researchers observations from stores, malls and the Internet.

Also taking a hit and feeling the pressure from these gloomy reports has been retail stocks such as Macy’s, Inc. (NYSE:M), Wal-Mart Stories, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) and Target Corporation (NYSE:TGT). They’re all trading down on Wednesday as well as Amazon.com, Inc.  (NASDAQ:AMZN) from its Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) debacle.

On Christmas Eve, an Amazon web service center suffered an outage and subsequently affected Netflix’s U.S., Canada, and Latin America subscribers. By Christmas day, the service had returned.

Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) is up 2.49%, trading at $92.49.

And then there’s a look at the consumer staples sector.

The Consumer Staples Sector SPDR Fund ETF (NYSE:XLP) is trading down 0.94% to $34.74. On Friday, its 50-day simple moving average hit $35.50, but remained above its 200-day SMA on Monday at $34.91. The Street.com writes the ETF’s daily chart profile is negative; this can viewed as a technical warning that consumer staples stocks have fallen behind during this year’s holiday shopping season.

Not helping matters is ValuEngine’s belief the sector is overvalued by 15.4% as compared to 16 sectors. Coming in behind is the alcoholic beverage industry (12.1% overvalue), soft drinks (9.2% overvalue) with cosmetics and toiletries at an 8.0% undervalue.

Look for these sectors to possibly take another hit if Thursday’s consumer confidence report is poor.

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Sheeraz Raza

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