NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire -11/22/11)- The Christmas season and this week's famous "Black Friday" will be a good test as to the health of apparel stores, and some companies are hoping that high profile ad campaigns will translate into profits. Apparel Stores are already benefitting from a drop in cotton futures, which should benefit margins in the coming quarter. The Bedford Report examines the outlook for companies in the Retail (Apparel) Sector and provides stock research on Lululemon Athletica, Inc. (NASDAQ: LULU - News) (TSX: LLL.TO - News) and Abercrombie & Fitch Company (NYSE: ANF - News). Access to the full company reports can be found at:
An increasing number of Americans are expected to hit stores during the holiday weekend, up to about 152 million, according to estimates from the National Retail Federation. The retail trade group estimates that retail sales this holiday season are expected to grow by a modest 2.8 percent to $465 billion. National Retail Federation President and CEO Matthew Shay said the firm "fully expects to see excited shoppers as early as midnight at stores around the country, as many holiday shoppers would rather stay up all night to take advantage of retailers' Black Friday deals rather than set their alarm to wake up the next morning."
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The Holiday season will be pivotal to Abercrombie & Fitch. Shares of the company have been on the downswing after the retailer of "preppy" apparel reported third-quarter results that missed expectations due to higher costs and a slowdown in Europe. In the US, the company chose to hold down prices, which combined with double-digit average units cost increases to put "significant pressure on our gross margins," Chief Executive Mike Jeffries said on a call with analysts.
Many Apparel companies like Lululemon Athletica that market their expensive brands to wealthier customers have been able to outperform their industry peers. Consumers with high incomes have continued to buy luxury items, and Lululemon has seen its stock take off in the last year on sales and popularity of its expensive yoga and fitness apparel.
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