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Despite Robust January Retail Sales, There Are Signs That Outlooks From Retailers Won’t Be So Rosy

Companies and Markets

By Christine Short  |  February 21, 2023

This marks the fourth peak week for the fourth quarter earnings season. If you recall, the fourth quarter reporting season stretches longer than any other, typically with four or five peak weeks versus the three peak weeks seen for the first through third quarters. This week we start to get results from the retailers, but there is debate as to whether those reports will be as rosy as the reading we saw on retail sales last week.

January retail sales increased 3% month over month, much better than the 1.9% that was expected. These numbers are not adjusted for inflation, meaning that consumers out-shopped the 0.5% inflation rate for the month as measured by CPI. But while the consumer has remained resilient in the face of inflation, in large part due to a steady job market, many retailers have been forthcoming about how difficult it’s been to entice shoppers to spend their discretionary income. A heavy promotional environment that started in October as part of the holiday shopping season has held on longer than retailers ever intended, with discounts deeper than desired. So while it’s great to see a consumer that is still active, those dollars are hard-earned.

While retail sales showed restaurants and bars pushed growth higher for January, we continue to see consumers trade down in this segment. A handful of operators of fast casual and casual dining restaurants reported last week, and while Denny’s (DENN), Shake Shack (SHAK), BJ’s Restaurants and Bloomin’ Brands (BLMN) were all able to beat on the bottom line, the former three came roughly in-line on revenues, while BLMN missed sales estimates. Texas Roadhouse (TXRH) missed on both earnings and sales. The same story holds from last week, with fast food continually outpacing fast casual and casual dining.  

Heading into the retail earnings parade, S&P 500 EPS growth now sits at -4.7% the second consecutive week of improvement, up from -4.9% last week. 

Peak Earnings Season Continues: Week 4 of 5

This marks the fourth peak week of the Q4 earnings season, with 1,522 companies (from our global universe of 9,500 equities) anticipated to release results, 61 of those coming from the S&P 500. All eyes will be on retailers as we get results from: Wal-Mart (WMT), Home Depot (HD), TJX Companies (TJX),  Etsy (ETSY), eBay (EBAY) and Wayfair (W). 

Potential Surprises in the Week Ahead

This week we get results from a number of large companies on major indexes that have pushed their Q4 earnings dates outside of their historical norms. Five companies within the S&P 500 confirmed outlier earnings dates for this week, four of which are later than usual and therefore have negative DateBreaks Factors*. Those four names are DaVita Inc. (DVA), DTE Energy (DTE), Genuine Parts Company (GPC) and Celanese Corporation (CE). According to academic research, the later than usual earnings dates suggest these companies will report “bad news” on their upcoming calls. PublicService Enterprise Group (PEG) confirmed an earlier than usual date, suggesting they will report “good news” on their upcoming call. 

eBay (EBAY) technically isn’t included on the list of late reporters from the S&P 500 because its DateBreaks factor is only -1.9 which is a slightly less significant than the outliers (those with a DateBreaks factor of -/+2 and -/+3) we tend to focus on, but in this case the fact that EBAY confirmed their earnings date so late has investors' attention. 

  • Company Confirmed Report Date: Wednesday, February 22, BMO

  • Projected Report Date (based on historical data): Tuesday, February 15

Typically, EBAY confirms its Q4 earnings date around January 11 plus or minus seven days. This year they didn’t confirm until February 1, or 21 days past their mean confirmation day. While this would typically have investors on high alert, it is important to note eBay announced its acquisition of 3PM Shield, a “provider of advanced AI-based marketplace compliance solutions,” earlier this week. M&A activity tends to result in earnings date movements.

Wall Street analysts expect eBay to post flat year over year profit growth and a revenue decline of 6% year over year, the seventh consecutive quarter of sales decreases. The company also just announced it was trimming its workforce by 4%.

Earnings Wave: 74% Confirmed, 44% Reported (In Our Universe of 9,500 Global Equities)

This week marks the fourth week of Q4 peak earnings, with 1,524 companies (from our global universe) expected to report. Currently February 23 is predicted to be the most active day with 678 companies anticipated to report.


Source: Wall Street Horizon


* Wall Street Horizon DateBreaks Factor: statistical measurement of how an earnings date (confirmed or revised) compares to the reporting company's 5-year trend for the same quarter. Negative means the earnings date is confirmed to be later than historical average while positive is earlier. 


This blog post has been written by a third-party contributor and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of FactSet. The information contained in this blog post is not legal, tax, or investment advice. FactSet does not endorse or recommend any investments and assumes no liability for any consequence relating directly or indirectly to any action or inaction taken based on the information contained in this article.


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Christine Short

Vice President of Research, Wall Street Horizon

Ms. Christine Short is Vice President of Research at Wall Street Horizon. In this role, she is focused on publishing research on Wall Street Horizon event data covering 10,000 global equities in the marketplace. Her research has been widely featured in financial news outlets including regular appearances on networks such as CNBC and Fox Business to talk about corporate earnings and the economy. Ms. Short earned a BA in International Relations and English from Fairfield University.


The information contained in this article is not investment advice. FactSet does not endorse or recommend any investments and assumes no liability for any consequence relating directly or indirectly to any action or inaction taken based on the information contained in this article.