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June 30, 2010

Last week’s sales slowed on the margin, but still strong in the key Athletic Specialty channel. In addition, we continue to see Under Armour’s sales kick it up a notch by printing its second consecutive week of mid-teens sales.


Sports apparel sales decelerated for the second week in a row, taking the 3-week trend down modestly.  No, we’re not alarmed yet. But for virtually all of May and the first half of June, we saw trends accelerating. That’s no longer the case. The SSI sample is far from perfect. But we like that it is consistently imperfect. In other words, the directional indication is something we cannot ignore.  On the plus side, the sports retailers (Dick’s, Sports Authority, Foot Locker, Finish Line, Hibbet, etc…) remain very healthy at around 10%. The weakness is coming from mass channels and family retailers. These channels have far less bearing on the health and underlying trends in the overall athletic space.

As it relates to brands and categories, compression was the key category up 22% and most notably Under Armour posted its 2nd consecutive week of mid-teens apparel sales at retail.

R3: Sport Apparel In Depth - 1


R3: Sport Apparel In Depth - 2


R3: Sport Apparel In Depth - 3 


-  In a trend that we expect will continue to grow state by state, NY State is considering the elimination of its tax free status on footwear and clothing below $110. In an effort to raise tax dollars, tax will be reinstated and then phased out over a multi-year period.  Come April 2011, footwear and shoes under $55 will become tax free, with the eventual return to items under $110 in 2012.


- Bebe isn’t the only retailer collaborating with the Kardashians.  This time the reality TV stars and celebrity sisters will actually have an entire store to themselves.  The first location, called Kardashian Khaos, is expected to open at the Mirage in Las Vegas this August.  The store features an active wear line and women’s athletic apparel developed in conjunction with Bravada International.  If you’re interested in a way to “play” the Kardashian trend, take a look at Bravada’s stock, ticker MFLI.


- In an effort to generate additional revenue for the NYC subway system, the MTA is allowing some of its trains to be wrapped in advertising.  The first major ad campaign is now underway, led by Target in advance of the company’s first Manhattan location opening in July.  The 10 car subway train is covered inside and out with Target branding and imagery.  Given the subway’s current state of affairs it won’t be long before the entire system becomes one of the more prominent advertising venues around. 


- Call it first mover advantage or just common sense, but books remain the most likely item to be purchased online, with 44% of consumers indicating intent to purchase online over the next 6 months.  According to a Nielsen global study, books, followed by apparel/shoes/accessories (36%), airline tickets (32%), and electronics (27%) are the leading categories for sale via e-commerce.


Wal-Mart Puts Its Store Chief In Charge Of E-commerce - Eduardo Castro-Wright is the new president and CEO of Global.com, Wal-Mart’s worldwide online retail arm. The move should strengthen WalMart.com's challenge to top web retailer Amazon.com. <internetretailer.com>  

Hedgeye Retail’s Take:  Shuffling the decks in attempt to reinvigorate growth in the company’s core domestic division may not be a bad idea.  However, with prices already the lowest on the block and incremental traffic hard to come by, we wonder if this isn’t really an impossible task for any executive, old or new.


AEO Leaps Forward with 77kids Plan - American Eagle Outfitters, Inc. announced plans to open seven 77kids by american eagle brick-and-mortar stores, beginning in July 2010. In addition, the brand is launching little77(TM), a new line of clothing and accessories for babies zero to 18 months. The little77 brand will be available online and in the new brick-and-mortar stores, and includes a collection of denim, graphic tees, hoodies, and kid cool fashion items for boys and girls. The first 77kids store will open in Pittsburgh at The Mall at Robinson on July 15, 2010, other confirmed locations are:  Danbury, CT; Bloomington, MN; Cherry Hill, NJ;  Syracuse, NY; Raleigh, NC. prnewswire.com

Hedgeye Retail’s Take:  While nothing is new here, we can now actually see the latest concept from AEO.  With ARO, JCG, ANF, and now AEO all investing in kids, it won’t be long before the space becomes as crowded as their grown up teen parents.   


Taylor Made Is Looking For Acquisition Opportunities - Adidas AG said that its unit Taylor Made Golf Company, Inc. is looking for acquisition opportunities, targeting competitors who are strong in women's, senior's, and lifestyle areas. Mark King, head of Taylor Made Golf Company, said, TaylorMade’s revenue will be little changed this year, reiterating an earlier forecast. prnewswire.com

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: We question the timing of the article, which is most likely a repurposed view on M&A, coming a day after the company issued a press release claiming its global leadership position. With the acquisition of Ashworth in 2008 helping Adi get to the top, similar deals can be expected as the company fights to maintain its position.


PSS Opens Combined European HQ and Distribution Center - Collective Brands Performance + Lifestyle Group (PLG), a division of Collective Brands, Inc., has opened a new combined European Headquarters and Distribution Center facility in Heerhugowaard, The Netherlands (near Amsterdam), as well as a new London-based product showroom. The facilities support European growth for Saucony, Keds, Sperry Top-Sider, Stride Rite and Robeez. <sportsonesource.com>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: Controlling its own distribution is one of PSS’s competitive differentiators and in-line with initiatives over the last 12-months to enhance distribution efficiencies given double-digit growth rates for key brands in Europe.


China and Taiwan Sign Trade Agreement, Tarriff Reductions for Apparel - China and Taiwan signed a trade agreement Tuesday that will reduce tariffs for dozens of textile and apparel categories, knitting and sewing machines and hundreds of other products moving between the two countries. The Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement would tie together two nations with a long history of tensely strained political and economic relations.  <wwd.com/business-news>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: 10-years ago this would have been a more significant development when Taiwan accounted for nearly 4% of US apparel imports compared to 8% for China, but that the spread has widened drastically (now <1% to 35%+ respectively) over the last decade. After 10-years of share gains, tariff reductions may help to slow, but not avoid the shift in manufacturing out of China in the face of wage inflation.


Denim Workers in Turkey Seek Compensation - Turkish textile workers have staged a three-day protest to demand compensation and rights after contracting fatal lung disease in the local denim sandblasting sweatshops. <fashionnetasia.com>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take:  Another worker protest and another reason to believe wage pressure will lead to higher prices. 


Macy's and Iconix to Benefit from Madonna's Launch of Material Girl - The world’s biggest pop star is gearing up for the launch of her new fashion line, Material Girl, in 200 Macy’s doors on Aug. 3. And this being Madonna, the road leading up to the launch includes a marketing blitz. “I like the idea that the line is being sold at Macy’s because Macy’s has the major accessibility factor across America,” said Madonna of Material Girl, which is the first project from MG Icon, a joint venture among Madonna; her manager, Guy Oseary, and Iconix Brand Group Inc. No matter how well the line performs at retail, Madonna and Oseary get paid $20 mm, plus potential earn-outs, for its 50% interest in MG Icon. <wwd.com/retail-news>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take:  With a deal like this we wonder why she even bothers to “gear up”.  Let’s just hope for Macy’s sake the Material Girl still has some fans left to sell her wares.  History suggests celebrity apparel has a short life.


Foursquare Presents Retailers With Unique Opportunity to Interact with Customers - Location-based social network Foursquare and similar apps are all about leading people to do interesting things — and maybe motivating them to make a purchase. Gamelike attributes motivate people to keep coming back. The mobile app senses the location of the user, who “checks in” to various venues and can leave tips, a comment and see who else is there. Users compete to be “mayor” of a place by checking in there the most and unlocking badges based on points. Starbucks was already the most checked-into venue on Foursquare, but the number of check-ins increased 40% to 50% when the company ran a promotion giving mayors of each location $1 off any size frappuccino. Although only slightly more than a year old, Foursquare has worked with Marc Jacobs, Jimmy Choo, Bravo Television, Zagat, MTV, The New York Times, Lucky magazine and Pepsi. The service has 1.6 million users and is growing 50% a month. <wwd.com/business-news>  

Hedgeye Retail’s Take:  Aside from letting the rest of the world know where you are at all times, this combination of a social network and a scavenger hunt could actually add some fun back to shopping.  The real-time ability of a retailer to juice sales via promos to a specific set of consumers is definitely something to watch.   


Rue La La Goes Mobile - The site’s mobile apps allow users to shop the daily offerings from their smart phone as well as bask in the air of exclusivity. Members can post about their latest Rue La La finds to Facebook and Twitter and can use Bump technology to invite friends to the club. In the month since Rue La La’s apps were live, the company saw its mobile sales figures approach 10% of overall sales.  <wwd.com/business-news>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: A natural progression for the discount luxury retailer, albeit months behind its higher-end counterpart Gilt.com that launched back in April in time for the iPad. Capturing 10%+ of sales within the first month is noteworthy if not impressive though we expect this figure to grow exponentially for these web-based retailer concepts.


Adi's Rockport Gets Nautical with New Offerings - Inspired by its New England seaside roots, The Rockport Co. is sailing into spring with nautical-inspired casual and career looks. Playing off a red, white and blue theme, the Canton, Mass.-based brand is rolling out a collection of breezy ballets, denim-friendly sandals and sexy slings. Set to retail from $70 to $140.  <wwd.com/footwear-news>  

Hedgeye Retail’s Take:  With boat shoes currently the trend du jour, it was only a matter of time before Rockport played off of its heritage.  We’re just surprised we haven’t seen the brand launch a toning shoe given its ties with Reebok.


R3: Sport Apparel In Depth - 4