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July 9, 2010

After another slowdown across the athletic specialty channel and the third straight deceleration in the trailing 3-week trend for both apparel and footwear, this week confirms a near-term slowdown ahead of BTS – a concern that we had alluded to last week.


After another slowdown across the athletic specialty channel and the third straight deceleration in the trailing 3-week trend for both apparel and footwear, this week confirms a near-term slowdown ahead of BTS – a concern that we had alluded to last week. With episodic events likely to contribute to near-term variability (e.g. World Cup finals, NBA free agency signings, etc.), one this is certain – last year’s trough-low the week of June 14th where apparel and footwear were each down -6.8% and -17.3% respectively on a trailing 3-week basis is now in the rearview. While still favorable, our point is that compares will be less so on the margin going forward. This is the type of environment in which the names that have been proactively investing in their growth (UA & NKE) should start to standout.

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- In an effort to drive sales and cross market to the largest consumer segment interested in denim and smartphones, American Eagle is offering a promotion for a free phone if you try on a pair of denim. Not only do customers get a coupon for a phone, but they will also receive a $25 American Eagle gift card (which of course is only valid after one signs a two year phone contract!). Yes it’s gimmicky, but we admire the effort to stem the weak topline. Isn’t a monthly phone bill (even if the phone is free) more like a tax than a gift?


- With all the talk about Facebook and efforts to monetize social media networks, it’s probably not good news to hear that domestic user growth barely increased during June. After adding 7.8 million users in May, Facebook added only 320,800 new users in June. Active users stand at 125 million here in the U.S. or just a bit more than those that shop Wal-Mart each week.


- The Keds are here, the Keds are here. After an announcement back in February, the collaboration between PSS’ Ked’s brand and Gap has finally arrived. The collaborative offering for both men and women is now online and in some stores. We continue to believe this high profile collaboration will be a win for PSS at is continues to turn the iconic, but perpetually struggling, canvas sneaker brand around.


Footwear Companies Better Positioned Than Apparel Due To Boots - Going into the third quarter, footwear companies are better positioned than apparel firms even as consumers continue searching for bargains. Strong demand for boots in the upcoming back-to-school season will help shoe companies weather what has been a volatile sales year. <wwd.com/footwear-news>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: While boots will be a key BTS item, we remind ourselves that a strong boot season rarely occurs two years in a row.  Come Fall/Winter it will be touch to lap 2009’s boot performance.           

Retail Real Estate Market Picks Up - Some high-profile signings in prime shopping areas led to a city-wide decline in availability, including in the Madison Avenue submarket, where availability fell to 10% from 12.8% in the first quarter. “Retailers are in a managed expansion mode, and with many owners offering attractive pricing, many retailers have found this to be the right time to make commitments,” said Joseph Harbert, COO of the New York metro region for Cushman & Wakefield. “With numerous deals in the pipeline, we expect to see activity continue into the second half of this year, leading to additional declines in availability.” On Madison Avenue, average rents for ground floor space were $831 per square foot at mid-year 2010, up 0.4 percent from the first quarter. Along upper Fifth Avenue, from 49th Street to 60th Street, rents rose 3.2 percent to $2,100 per square foot. <wwd.com/footwear-news>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take:  Not surprisingly now that the dust has settled, strategic expansion is picking up.  Unfortunately for those that rely on new developments for growth, there is still a void in the market.  Re-use properties will remain in focus. 

World Cup Win May Provide Economic Boost by Spurring Consumers - The real winner after this weekend’s World Cup final may be the economy of the champion, as either Spain or the Netherlands will get a boost from victory in the world’s most-watched soccer match, economists say. <bloomberg.com/news>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take:  Spain could certainly use some help if this holds true.  However, with an unemployment rate in the teens, it’s unlikely a win does much to set the country back on track. 

Adidas CEO Fights Back Against World Cup Soccer Ball Claims - Adidas AG Chief Executive Officer Herbert Hainer said criticism of his company’s World Cup soccer ball has “definitely” not harmed the sporting goods maker. Players have said that Jabulani ball is unpredictable in the air and is hard to control, accounting for some of the early mistakes made at the tournament in South Africa. For the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Adidas will try to make the ball easier to control, while maintaining its speed, Hainer said. Adidas has provided the tournament match ball since 1970. <bloomberg.com>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take:  Controversy=attention=brand awareness.  Looks like FIFA will be busy over the next four years working on instant replay and making sure 2014’s ball is not a key topic of discussion.                                                        

UK's John Lewis Sales Benefit From England’s World Cup Exit - Fashion was the strongest category for department store group John Lewis last week with an 18.1% year-on-year rise. After a slow start, shoppers came out in force during the period to July 3. Fashion sales growth of 18.1% outpaced  home sales 12% advance. However England’s World Cup demise brought a TV sales boom to an end and electricals and home technology edged up 0.7%. <retail-week.com>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take:   Good news/bad news.  After Sunday, all things World Cup will fade.  For now, UK retailers should be feeling pretty good about the boost given the disappointing result from the country’s much-hyped team. 

BGFV Preannounces Negative - Big 5 Sporting Goods Corp. cut its second-quarter earnings guidance as it posted a surprise 0.5% drop in same-store sales. The regional sporting-goods retailer now expects earnings of 20 cents to 23 cents a share, compared with May's view of 24 cents to 30 cents. It had also expected same-store sales to rise by the low-single digits on a percentage basis. <sportsonesource.com>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take:  After a very sluggish start to the quarter, sales trends were unable to recoup early losses that coincided with tough weather.  Recent trends are said to have improves, especially over the July 4th weekend. 

Tariff Bill Would Provide Less Duty Relief for Outdoor Footwear - Outdoor footwear retailers and vendors got mixed news Thursday when the House Ways & Means Committee posted a Miscellaneous Tariff Bill that would restore duty relief on trail runners and other outdoor products retroactive to Jan. 1, 2010, but at higher rates than stipulated in the bill that expired last year.  <sportsonesource.com>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take:  Inflation. 

Former Lady Foot Locker CEO to Head Lane Bryant Outlet - Charming Shoppes, Inc. appointed Marla C. Anderson as the president of its Lane Bryant Outlet business, effective July 12, 2010. Most recently, she was the president and chief executive officer of Lady Foot Locker from 2005 through early 2010. <sportsonesource.com>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take:  Note that Lady Footlocker is already under new leadership and this announcement has little relevance to the efforts underway at FL.   Recall that the all women’s concept is one of the most improved of all sub-brands in terms of merchandise improvements and changes.

QVC Sets Ambitious Goals - With a goal to build one of the largest e-commerce transactional platforms in the world, QVC set ambitious goals this week. Plans to continue its online as well as overall growth through a three-part strategy: Building on sales from existing customers through a major upgrade of its technology platform, including new e-commerce technology that will make it easier for QVC to offer new, innovative shopping experiences and respond more quickly online to changes in customer demand; and continuing to expand its breadth of brands and product categories, including local, independent brands that it will take national and international. Building on the 22% of new revenue garnered from new customers over the past year, in large part by attracting new shoppers through social media and mobile commerce. Expanding its presence in international markets, with a planned launch of QVC Italy this October that will extend its worldwide customer base to more than 200 million households. QVC’s new e-commerce technology platform will, among other things, improve the retailer’s ability to provide extensive behind-the-scenes content that complement its shopping videos with additional product videos, blogs, forums and other features. <internetretailer.com>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take:  Smart move to go on offense as tv-induced shopping is likely to gradually shrink over time.  If anything, a content rich e-commerce experience should improve the already powerful platform and potentially reduce production costs over time.

Sneaker Trends: New Blue - Sneaker companies are embracing a blue mood for fall ’10, with sapphire and deep navy looks giving men a fresh alternative to black and brown kicks. <wwd.com/footwear-news>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take:  A boost in the sales of fashion footwear could be a source of upside as performance/technical shoes have been driving the trend so far this year.  Good news for companies like GCO if this trend holds.

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