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Why These Upscale Retail Stocks Are Crashing Today

By John Rosevear - Mar 16, 2020 at 2:38PM

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Store traffic is already falling sharply.

What happened

Shares of upscale retailers Nordstrom (JWN -2.78%), lululemon athletica (LULU -1.14%), and RH (RH -0.73%), the parent company of Restoration Hardware, were all hit hard in trading on Monday. Investors fear that measures to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus will bring retail traffic to a near-halt in the U.S. and Europe for at least several weeks.

As of 1:30 p.m. EDT, shares of Nordstrom, Lululemon, and RH were down about 17%, 20.2%, and 17.8%, respectively, from Friday's closing prices.

So what

The story with all three of these stocks is the same, and it's pretty simple: Retail foot traffic is falling sharply as governments urge consumers to stay home to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

U.S. retail foot traffic was already down almost 10% as of a week ago; it's likely down much more now, although we won't have updated figures for another day or two. While all three companies have online retail presences, all three remain heavily dependent on their traditional brick-and-mortar businesses.

A Nordstrom sign on the outside of a store

Image source: Nordstrom.

Of the three, only Lululemon has announced store closings as of Monday afternoon. The upscale yogaware retailer closed all of its stores in North America through at least March 27. The company will continue to pay employees for all of the hours they were scheduled to work, it said.

Now what

Investors in Lululemon and RH will get updates soon. Lululemon is scheduled to report quarterly earnings on March 26; RH hasn't set a date yet, but it's likely to report in late March or early April.

As for Nordstrom, which reported on March 3, investors will have to wait to see how the next couple of weeks unfold.

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Stocks Mentioned

Lululemon Athletica Inc. Stock Quote
Lululemon Athletica Inc.
$280.38 (-1.14%) $-3.24
Nordstrom, Inc. Stock Quote
Nordstrom, Inc.
$20.28 (-2.78%) $0.58
RH Stock Quote
$241.82 (-0.73%) $-1.79

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