The U.S. stock market has put in a strong performance this month, with the S&P 500 Index (SPX) pacing toward a 2.3% April gain. The retail sector, in particular, has been a pocket of strength, as evidenced by a 1.2% month-to-date advance for the SPDR S&P Retail ETF (XRT). And if history is any indicator, retail stocks Gap Inc (NYSE:GPS) and Boot Barn Holdings Inc (NYSE:BOOT) could all be headed higher in the near term.
Gap Stock Tends to Shine During Easter Week
There's no question Gap stock has been a long-term underperformer, with the shares down 14% year-over-year. More recently, though, the equity is up 3.5% from a mid-April test of $25.50 -- near its year-to-date breakeven mark -- and heading into a seasonally bullish period.
Per data from Schaeffer's Senior Quantitative Analyst Rocky White, Gap has been one of the best stocks to own during Easter week. Over the past 10 years, the shares have averaged a gain of 2.2%, with 80% of those returns positive. Another move of this magnitude would put GPS stock near $26.92, based on its current price at $26.34.
Those wanting to bet on Gap's short-term trajectory should consider a premium-buying strategy. The stock's Schaeffer's Volatility Index (SVI) of 30% ranks in the 7th annual percentile, meaning near-term options are pricing in relatively low volatility expectations at the moment.
Boot Barn Buy Signal Has Never Been Wrong
Boot Barn stock has doubled since its Dec. 24 annual low of $15.01, with the shares hitting a nearly four-year high of $32.21 on April 5. BOOT came within striking distance of this milestone in yesterday's trading, but were last seen trading down 2.5% at $30.88.
Meanwhile, near-term implied volatility on BOOT options is unusually low, based on the stock's SVI of 54%, which registers in the 15th percentile of its 12-month range. According to White, in the two other times the equity has been trading within 2% of a new 52-week high while its SVI simultaneously ranks in the 20th annual percentile or lower, the shares were higher one month later both times, averaging an 18.35% gain.
A continued round of short covering could keep the wind at Boot Barn's back. Although short interest fell 21% in the two most recent reporting periods, it would still take shorts nearly nine days to cover the remaining 3.94 million shares still sold short, at the average pace of trading.