Not all retailers are on track for a happy holiday season.
The latest "retail report card" from Sageworks found that a number of retail industries that rely heavily on the holiday shopping season have seen weak revenue growth and profit margins during the past year. The projections come from financial statements filed during the 12 month period ending October 23, 2015.
Furniture stores and electronics and appliance stores are outperforming the average private retailer in both profitability and revenue growth. Companies in the sporting goods, hobby, and musical instruments sector, however, are in need of a major boost this holiday season. Despite seeing some of their highest profit margins of the past five years, these companies have been barely growing revenues year-over-year.
"We don't want to paint too gloomy a picture here," says Sageworks analyst James Noe. "These companies are doing okay right now. But if holiday sales are tepid this year, it might signal problems for retailers in the New Year."
While companies that focus exclusively on e-commerce and catalog sales stood ahead of the pack, growing sales at a faster rate than virtually any other type of retailer, they're struggling to keep margins high. These businesses, defined as "electronic shopping and mail-order houses," saw net profit margins drop year-over-year, from an excellent 6.5 percent last year to 3 percent during the 12-month period ending October 23, 2015.
Jewelry, luggage, and leather goods stores are also struggling to grow revenues, but these companies actually saw a revenue contraction at the same time last year. "A minor increase in sales, however small, is actually good news for these companies after the revenue contraction last year," Noe says.
In the chart below, Sageworks has assigned a grade for 10 industries of retail based on their revenue growth and profitability over the past 12 months. These sub-industries were chosen because the companies that operate within them tend to see a lot of their annual income and revenue come through during the holiday shopping season.