Merrill Lynch analyst Jaime Sheinheit said higher energy costs will weigh on consumer spending, noting that retailers have had trouble getting customers in the door.
However, it's hard to tell whether the sluggish traffic is related to softening consumer spending or warm weather, Sheinheit
"Cold weather may spark shopping," she
In the luxury sector, Sheinheit
said handbag maker Coach Inc. has warned of sluggish traffic in its U.S. stores.
Sectors that might fare better include teen retailers, Sheinheit
said, noting that the income of their main customer, teenagers, usually stays the same.Companies in this sector include American Eagle Outfitters Inc.
and Abercrombie & Fitch Co.
One company that may emerge stronger, Sheinheit
said, is AnnTaylor Stores Corp.
, which has leaner inventory and a new product assortment at its lower-priced Loft division.In August
, the company said it increased markdowns to reduce inventory heading into fall seasons at both its Ann Taylor and Loft stores.
"There is a lot of opportunity for Loft to improve margins this holiday season," Sheinheit