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S&P Equity Research Issues Retail Sector Predictions For 2011

NEW YORK, Jan. 18, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- While the majority of publicly traded retailers were able to capture share in 2010 from smaller competitors or those that were forced to declare bankruptcy, and also increase profit margins, retail analysts at S&P Equity Research see 2011 as another good year and are projecting that consumer spending will rise 3% this year.  

"The most important driver of retail sales is the trend in the labor market, and we think the employment situation will continue to stabilize with some slight improvement," said Marie Driscoll, Group Head of the Consumer Discretionary Retail analysts at S&P Equity Research. "We think this will be a slight positive for retail sales this year, although we admit that various aspects of the labor market are still extremely poor."

"Perhaps the biggest catalyst for improving retail sales in 2011 will be the extension of the Bush Era tax cuts and the 2% payroll tax cut for all workers one year, said Driscoll.. "We think this 'tax holiday' will have a significant impact on spending, as the median income family earning about $50,000 per year will receive an additional $1,000 in its paychecks and those earning $106,800, the current limit of FICA taxes, and above will take home about $2,100 more this year."

The analysts have identified the following ten trends for retailers in 2011 and the medium-term future.

1. Retailers such as Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF 52 ****), Polo Ralph Lauren (RL 110 *****), and Tiffany (TIF 60 ****) plan to increasingly focus on international markets (in particular, emerging markets) to boost growth rates. On that same note, we expect opportunistic domestic store closures for many retailers.

2. We project aggregate online retail growth of 10% in 2011, as consumers increasingly migrate to online sites for convenience and value. It seems apparent to us that consumers are becoming more channel agnostic, with retailers such as Amazon.com (AMZN 189 ***) likely to gain additional market share.

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