Despite it being Cyber Monday, the SPDR S&P Retail ETF (XRT) - Get Report is down 2% on the day, but that is not having much of an impact on the S&P 500 ETF (SPY) - Get Report , which is down just 0.1%.
On CNBC's "Fast Money Halftime" show, Josh Brown, CEO and co-founder of Ritholtz Wealth Management, said the Black Friday data doesn't seem to be all that strong. However, investors should remember that this isn't the 1980s anymore. Shoppers are increasingly moving to online shopping, while retailers are increasingly expanding their offerings for more than just one weekend. Retailers are starting earlier in the year and offering discounts for longer, he said.
Brown added that Black Friday data can be overanalyzed at times. He cited a report from MasterCard that said Dec. 23 is one of the busiest shopping days of the year.
Stephen Weiss, founder and managing partner of Short Hills Capital Partners, added that the current lack of clarity makes it hard to buy retail stocks. Until the results come out next quarter, investors won't really know how good or bad a holiday season it was, he explained. In the meantime, cheap stocks can always get cheaper, he said. He pointed out that Macy's (M) - Get Report stock looked attractive from a valuation perspective in the $50s, and it's now below $40. Investors should be careful.
Jon Najarian, co-founder of Optionmonster.com and Trademonster.com, spent his Black Friday at the Mall of America. He said traffic from the opening was down, but in the afternoon it became busier. Notably busy stores included Microsoft (MSFT) - Get Report , L Brands (LB) - Get Report , Apple (AAPL) - Get Report , and Lululemon Athletica (LULU) - Get Report .
Speaking of Lululemon, the stock was downgraded to underperform and assigned a price target of $42, down from $55, at FBR Capital Markets. FBR's senior vice president and senior research analyst Susan Anderson explained that the company's margins will likely come under pressure this quarter.
Inventories were quite high at the end of the second quarter, and as Lululemon is looking to offload it, gross margins will be pinched. Although "traffic was very strong" this weekend, Anderson acknowledged, the number of clearance items was up significantly from last year, while pricing had declined roughly 10% year over year.
As for a takeout, Lululemon could be bought by a company like VF Corp. (VFC) - Get Report if it declines far enough, but Nike (NKE) - Get Report and Under Armour (UA) - Get Report will likely take a pass as they look to build out their own women's brands, Anderson said. As it stands, shares of Lululemon look too expensive at current levels.
Brown and Weiss agreed.
The conversation turned more broadly to the stock market, as Adam Parker, U.S. equity strategist at Morgan Stanley, came on the show to discuss his 2016 outlook.
The strong dollar has weighed on corporate earnings results, Parker said. Overall, he and his team came away from their recent strategy meeting feeling a bit more conservative.
Parker is looking for S&P 500 earnings-per-share growth of roughly 4%, with total returns in the low- to mid-single-digit range. He expects the dollar to continue higher, and for interest rates to rise in 2016.
Although he's not bearish, Parker says 2016 could just be a year where stocks slowly move higher, before ultimately taking the rally even further in the years ahead. He likes credit card companies (both the companies and the IT side), as well as mega-cap growth stocks and health care.
Weiss agreed it will be a low return environment going forward. Profit margins have peaked, so stock selection will be critical. He also likes the financial sector for rising rates.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.