Rally in Retail ETFs is for Real

It is holiday shopping season and for many investors, that is all the explanation needed for why the SPDR S&P Retail ETF (NYSEArca: XRT), the largest retail-related ETF on the market, jumped more than 5% and why the benchmark retail ETF is up more than 12% over the past month. However, there could be more to come for XRT and rival retail ETFs.

Another side of the coin is that some retailers still face a challenging environment. Analysts expect stores will struggle to sell winter merchandise and deal with excess inventory as they add new items for the season, which could cause more discounts and promotions, dragging on store margins.

Moreover, it’s not just brick-and-mortar retailers under pressure. Online retailers are also suffering. Adobe found that online retailers lost out on about $800 million in expected sales from the beginning of November through November 14 due to changing spending habits, writes Daniel B. Kline on Fox Business.

Amazon (NasdaqGS: AMZN) and Dow component Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) have recently helped XRT’s rival, the VanEck Vectors Retail ETF (NYSEArca: RTH), perform less poorly than XRT. XRT, an equal-weight ETF, has been plagued by slumping apparel retailers, among other corners of the flailing retail industry.

RTH covers the 25 largest U.S. companies involved in retail distribution, wholesalers, on-line, direct mail and TV retailers, multi-line retailers, specialty retailers and food and other staples retailers. The ETF’s exposure to traditional department stores is light.

With Amazon being one of the story stocks of 2016, RTH is primed to keep rolling, but XRT is reversing its fortunes for the better thanks to rebounding department store names. That scenario is bolstering the ETF’s technical outlook.