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U.S. Retail Sales Soar in Holiday Season: 5 Top Picks

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This year, the holiday season has been the shortest. Yet the Mastercard SpendingPulse holiday season report showed that retail sales still hit record highs. And it’s mostly because of Americans being confident about their well-being.

Retail Sales Hit Record High

According to Mastercard SpendingPulse, retail sales in the United States from Nov 1 to Dec 24 rose 3.4% from the comparable year-ago period. The Mastercard SpendingPulse survey tracks spending online and in traditional stores, via all types of payments ranging from cash to credit, excluding sales of automobiles.

Additionally, this year, the Saturday before the Christmas was one of the busiest shopping days in America’s history and evidently surpassed Black Friday sales, per a Customer Growth Partners research report. 

In fact, as per Census Bureau report retail sales for the first 11 months of this year grew modestly. But it was non-store retailers that registered a healthy 12.1% increase in sales. Nonetheless, through November, sales across non-discretionary segments like food and beverage stores, and health and personal care stores rose 3.1% and 2.9%, respectively.

E-Commerce Sales Steal the Show

E-commerce was the best performer in retail sales, growing at a faster pace, rising 18.8% from last year and making nearly 15% of the total retail sales. Specialty stores and especially Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN - Free Report) drew customers’ attention away from department stores by offering steep discounts and one-day shipping facility.

Mastercard’s research shows, sales of electronics goods were the highest, rising 4.6% year over yearover the previous year, with online sales generating a whopping 10.7%. However, online sales topped in the specialty apparel segment, with sales jumping 17% in the period last year. A steep rise in online jewelry sales was also seen as the segment generated 8.8% and grew 1.8% overall from the previous year.

As per reports from Amazon.com, one-day delivery was a hit and comparatively more people tried out the $119-a-year Prime membership than any other year. The e-commerce giant gained more than 5 million new customers in a single week as they could avail faster shipping and free movie streaming facility.

What Drove the Rise in Sales?

Evidently, this year, consumers have been the driving force behind the U.S. economy’s growth. A 50-year low unemployment rate and steady wage gains have kept American households healthy and the shopping spree alive.

In fact, personal income rose 0.5% in November beating the consensus estimate of 0.3%. Moreover, November’s income growth was the strongest since August. The rise in income could be visible from 266,000 job additions in November, which is the highest since January.

5 Retail Stocks to Buy

According to C. Britt Beemer, chief executive of the consumer behavior firm America’s Research Group, retailers are trying to make the most by offering steep discounts “through at least New Year’s Day in hopes of snaring those who did not get all they had hoped for” in the shortened holiday shopping season. With this we can hope that the already boosted retail space will be soaring in the near term as well. Hence, we have shortlisted five stocks that flaunt a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Insight Enterprises, Inc. NSIT is a direct marketing company that offers computers, hardware and software. It focuses on business-to-business and information technology capabilities with a combination of a strong outbound telemarketing sales force, electronic commerce, electronic marketing and direct mail catalogs. The company’s expected earnings growth rate for the current quarter is 25% compared with the Zacks Retail - Mail Order industry’s projected earnings growth of nearly 10%. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the company’s current-year earnings has been revised upward by 10.1% over the past 60 days.

Zumiez Inc. ZUMZ is a specialty retailer of apparel, footwear, accessories, and hard goods for young men and women. The company’s expected earnings growth rate for next quarter is 33.3% against the Zacks Retail - Apparel and Shoes industry’s projected earnings decline of 68.1%. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the company’s current-year earnings has been revised upward by nearly 13% over the past 60 days.

Boot Barn Holdings, Inc. BOOT is a lifestyle retail chain and offers western and work-related footwear, apparel, and accessories for men, women and kids. The company belongs to the Zacks Retail - Apparel and Shoesindustry and its expected earnings growth rate for next quarter is 21.9%. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the company’s current-year earnings has been revised upward by 5.4% over the past 60 days.

Genesco Inc. GCO is a retailer and wholesaler of footwear, apparel and accessories, and involved in the retail, e-commerce and catalog operations. The company’s expected earnings growth rate for current quarter is 23.9% against the Zacks Retail - Apparel and Shoesindustry’s projected earnings decline of 45.4%. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the company’s current-year earnings has been revised upward by nearly 6% over the past 60 days.

Sonic Automotive, Inc. SAH is an automotive retailer that is engaged in the sale of new and used cars and light trucks, and replacement parts; vehicle maintenance; paint and collision repair services and financing, insurance, and other aftermarket services. The company’s expected earnings growth rate for the next quarter is 35.9% compared with the Zacks Automotive - Retail and Whole Sales industry’s projected earnings growth of 0.8%. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the company’s current-year earnings has been revised upward by 4.1% over the past 60 days.

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