Options Traders Target a Big Retail ETF

The SPDR S&P Retail ETF (NYSEArca: XRT) is modestly higher this year, but some data points suggest some traders are positioning for more downside in the benchmark retail exchange traded fund.

XRT faces competition from ETFs that are more levered to the boom in e-commerce. The trend away from traditional department stores and apparel retailers to online shopping destinations should benefit the Amplify Online Retail ETF (NasdaqGM: IBUY), which is comprised of global companies that generate at least 70% of revenue from online or virtual sales.

XRT features exposure to the following corners of the retail industry: Apparel Retail, Automotive Retail, Computer & Electronic Retail, Department Stores, Drug Retail, Food Retailers, General Merchandise Stores, Hypermarkets & Super Centers, Internet & Direct Marketing Retail, and Specialty Stores, according to State Street.

What Traders Are Doing

Thursday’s options activity in XRT suggest traders are bearish on the fund with “puts outpace calls by a 15-to-1 ratio. Most of the action has centered at the weekly 5/25 45-strike put, due to a 1,500-contract block that was apparently bought to open for an initial cash outlay of $109,500 (number of contracts * $0.73 premium paid * 100 shares per contract),” according to Schaeffer’s Investment Research.

Other XRT options strikes confirm the bearish sentiment.