James Dennin, Kapitall: Low disposable income growth could spell trouble for retail stocks this season, but some have cash on hand.
Wal-Mart (WMT) recently announced they're slashing prices on TVs – so 32-inch flat screens could be had for less than a hundred dollars this shopping season. Could it be that the company is a bit spooked by the vaguely awkward scandal over revelations they've been organizing Thanksgiving food drives for their own employees?
Read more on Retail from Kapitall: 7 Retail Stocks That May Give You More Bang For Your Buck
This trend isn't simply limited to Wal-Mart. Old Navy (GAP) is offering a million dollar jackpot to the first person to cross through their thresholds on Black Friday. I guess price breaks on already affordable denim wasn't enough to get shoppers to don their riot gear.And while we are being somewhat tongue and cheek, it's interesting to note that all of the sales and promotions retail stocks are offering are decidedly more aggressive than they've been in recent years. Do these moves signal that major retailers are alarmed, and going to extra lengths to get customers through their doors during the holidays? The main cause of their concern is most likely disposable income growth – which has been robust for high earners but incremental for those making less. Investing ideas The holidays are the most important shopping season of the year. So it makes sense that retailers would be anxious if Americans seemed like they were tightening their belts as the year draws to a close. However, the sales they offer aren't exactly free. Figuring out new ways to entice skittish customers costs money. And some retailers have a lot more cash on hand than others. We decided to see which retail stocks had the highest cash flow, relative to their size. Firms with more cash lying around are better equipped to handle disappointing sales – as well as better equipped to jockey for a smaller number of flush customers with ad-buys and new discounts.