Mall Retailers See Red Going into Christmas

Jacob Harper  |

Express Inc. (EXPR) plummeted in early action Dec. 4, shedding nearly a quarter of its price in anticipation of an exceedingly competitive 2013 shopping season.

In a statement to investors, Chairman and CEO Michael Weiss admitted Black Friday sales did not meet expectations, and the company would be forced to amp up holiday promotional efforts significantly.

The holiday shopping season looks to be fairly rough for retailers across the board, and short. 2013 has the mathematically shortest amount of time between Black Friday and Christmas, which puts a hefty squeeze on brick-and-mortar chains.

Though Express is feeling the holiday blues a bit more than most, they’re certainly not alone. JC Penney (JCP) has been one of the biggest losers on the year, both alienating their dwindling loyalists and botching a complete revamp strategy.

Former youth apparel juggernaut turned-laughingstock Abercrombie and Fitch (ANF) has been struggling mightily in 2013, as its demographic ages out of the brand. Activist investors are calling for the head of the CEO, and looking to somehow reverse the general trend of mall retailers marching towards irrelevancy.

Companies that rely on Black Friday living up to its name faced a harsh truth on 2013, that the Friday after Thanksgiving would not save them as it has in years past.

However, as stodgy retailers Abercrombie, Express, and JC Penney plummet, tech savvy companies are celebrating a smashing Cyber Monday. To be sure, Apple Inc. (AAPL) was a major beneficiary, as were traditional brick-and-mortars that quickly adopted Cyber Monday like Target (TGT) .

But all pale in comparison to internet retail juggernaut Amazon Inc. (AMZN) . This holiday season has seen Amazon’s sales uptick 44.3 percent over the year prior. Add in the plans for drone shipping, and the future of holiday shopping looks to be more automated, and less dependent on standalone locations.

Retailers that have adapted – Best Buy (BBY) for instance – should fare well. The Express’ and Abercrombie and Fitch’s of the world, on the other hand, are facing not just a tough 2013 but tough holiday shopping seasons as Black Friday loses and Cyber Monday gains.

DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not necessarily represent the views of Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions. To read our full disclosure, please go to:

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