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Why Furniture Stocks Rallied Today

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of furniture stocks La-Z-Boy (NYSE: LZB  ) , Ethan Allen Interiors (NYSE: ETH  ) , and Haverty Furniture Companies (NYSE: HVT  ) all climbed about 2% on the latest weekly numbers from The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC).

So what: Same-store retail sales for the week ending Saturday slipped 1.6% from the previous week, but a 3.2% increase over the year-ago period suggests that demand in the sector is turning. In fact, the ICSC now expects sales for the month of September to grow by about 4% -- up slightly from the 3.6% increase in August -- giving analysts plenty of good vibes over the furniture subsector.

Now what: I'd expect year-over-year numbers to remain favorable for the rest of 2013. "The industry's sales performance during this past week essentially reversed last week's positive sales jump," said ICSC chief economist Michael Niemira."However, despite that volatility, business was stronger in a number of key segments -- drug, department, discount wholesale, electronics and specialty stores -- compared with the same week of the prior year." Of course, when you couple the furniture sector's recent pop with the still-very intense nature of the business, Fools need to be extra selective when figuring out how to play that strength.  

Bigger movements in retail
The retail space is in the midst of the biggest paradigm shift since mail order took off at the turn of last century. Only those most forward-looking and capable companies will survive, and they'll handsomely reward those investors who understand the landscape. You can read about the 3 Companies Ready to Rule Retail in The Motley Fool's special report. Uncovering these top picks is free today; just click here to read more.

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