Retail: the plot thickens. This morning we've been treated to exceptional numbers from TJX (TJX), Home Depot (HD) and Wal-Mart (WMT) -- and what do all three have in common? They aren't in the traditional mall.
This is an important distinction, because the weaknesses in Macy's (M) and Nordstrom (JWN) were about traffic. TJX cited robust traffic and Home Depot came in with masterful comp sales growth of 7%, so we know they had traffic.
Wal-Mart -- which reported a 1% comp-sales growth number, when people expected a 1% comp-sales growth number -- represents a big victory. The seeds of a turn may very well be there for Wal-Mart ¿ although, when you lower the numbers enough they become easy to beat.
There are other differences versus Nordstrom and Macy's. The retail market is seeing an aversion to apparel, right now -- something confirmed by the ugly numbers from Dick's Sporting Goods (DKS) today. Of course, Dick's blames the weather, something Macy's did but Nordstrom did not.
We will have much more as the day advances, but it's pretty clear that all is not lost in retail. However, it looks like the mall rats are staying away from the apparel-based retailers.