ETF Trends
ETF Trends

Is the Ghost of Christmas Future trying to tell us that exchange traded funds (ETFs) could benefit from bargain-hunting this holiday season?

The economy is not out of the doldrums yet, to be sure. While prices are off their recent highs, oil is still above $100 a barrel, and gas is spendy enough to strain the daily spending limit on your debit card. If prices keep heading lower, though, perhaps this holiday season won’t be so dismal after all.

Prices remain high enough that most people are going to be out in force looking for a bargain, not a splurge. This could wind up benefiting discount retailers the most.

Costco (COST), the biggest warehouse club in the United States, could have its biggest holiday season since going public 23 years ago, report Mark Clothier and Lauren Coleman-Lochner for Bloomberg. They’re seeking to not only target those who love a bargain on paper towels and baby wipes, but also the higher-end consumers, by adding $6,000 tennis bracelets and designer duffel bags to their stock.

Last year, holiday sales rose by 3%, which was the smallest gain in five years. While things might not be much better this year, retailers known for good prices and the ETFs that hold them in particular could stand to gain.

The Retail HOLDRs (RTH) holds a nice helping of discount retailers, including Wal-Mart (WMT; 21.5%), Target (TGT; 8.8%) and Costco (COST; 5.9%). Year-to-date, it’s up 5.1%, but in the last month it’s done even better, heading up 12.1%.

Other ETFs that could gather steam if oil and gas continue to head lower:

  • Vanguard Consumer Staples (VDC), down 1.5% year-to-date
  • SPDR S&P Retail (XRT), down 1.8% year-to-date
  • Consumer Discretionary SPDR (XLY), down 4.4% year-to-date

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.