Retailers were hammered Friday as Black Friday sales weren't enough for investors to overcome concerns about the new variant of Covid-19 that has markets spooked Friday.
Shares of Macy's (M) - Get Macy's Inc Report dropped 6.1%, while Nordstrom (JWN) - Get Nordstrom, Inc. Report tanked nearly 7%, The Gap (GPS) - Get Gap, Inc. Report declined 4.2% and the TJX Companies (TJX Companies) fell 2.3%.
Big box retailers were fairing slightly better with Target (TGT) - Get Target Corporation Report declining 0.4%, Walmart (WMT) - Get Walmart Inc. Report falling 0.14% and Costco (COST) - Get Costco Wholesale Corporation Report was flat.
Black Friday is usually seen as the unofficial kickoff of the holiday sales season. But this year, the post-Thanksgiving shopping season could be hampered by a dangerous new variant of the virus that causes Covid-19.
The World Health Organization will hold an emergency meeting Friday following the discovery of the variant, known as B.1.1.529, in a traveler visiting Israel from South Africa earlier this week. It has also been identified in Hong Kong, according to U.K. health officials.
The variant carries a spike protein — the basis for infection — that is vastly different to that which current vaccines are designed to neutralize, health authorities have said, and is mutating fast.
Britain has restricted travel from South Africa, and several neighboring countries as a result, with the European Union following shortly after.
Airline and travel stocks were also seeing pressure Friday.