Thanksgiving is fast approaching. That also means American retail traditions Black Friday and Cyber Monday are right around the corner.
In other words, the 2019 holiday shopping season is already off and running. While the U.S. consumer remains mostly steady, some recent earnings reports from big-box retailers, such as Kohl’s (NYSE:KSS) and Home Depot (NYSE:HD), have unnerved investors.
Conversely, recent updates from Walmart (NYSE:WMT) and Target (NYSE:TGT) were stellar, giving investors reasons to believe this holiday shopping season is setting up nicely for select retailers, both traditional and online.
For investors that don’t want to bet on a specific retail stock, some of the following exchange-traded funds could prove worthy of investment dollars this holiday season and beyond.
Retail ETFs to Buy: ProShares Decline of the Retail Store ETF (EMTY)
Expense ratio: 0.65% per year, or $65 on a $10,000 investment.
Among retail ETFs, consider the ProShares Decline of the Retail Store ETF (NYSEARCA:EMTY) to be the “Grinch” play this holiday season. The reason being is that as the name of this retail ETF implies, it’s designed to benefit from the demise of brick-and-mortar stores. EMTY isn’t a leveraged ETF as it provides the daily inverse exposure of the Solactive-ProShares Bricks and Mortar Retail Store Index.
So with this fund, investors are betting on downside in the likes of Kohl’s, Gap (NYSE:GPS), American Eagle Outfitters (NYSE:AEO) and Walgreens (NASDAQ:WBA), among others. While EMTY has traded lower this year, the retail ETF could be ready to change that trend. Multiple points could trigger upside here. For starters, mall vacancies are increasing. That’s not good news for many of the retailers residing in EMTY’s underlying index.
Then there is this nugget: Billionaire investor Carl Icahn is shorting $400 million worth of corporate debt issued by mall companies. That’s essentially a bet on an uptick in defaults by mall owners.
Amplify Online Retail ETF (IBUY)
Expense ratio: 0.65%
Among retail ETFs, the Amplify Online Retail ETF (NASDAQ:IBUY), like some of its components, has the look of a buy-the-dip candidate. Over the past month, IBUY is lower by 4% and now resides almost 10% below its 52-week high.
The $240 million IBUY, which is almost 4 years old, follows the EQM Online Retail Index. That benchmark mandates that its components derive at least 70% of total revenue from online revenues. This retail ETF does an admirable job of mitigating single-stock risk. None of its 47 holdings exceed weights of 3.4%.
While IBUY is home to traditional e-commerce giants such as Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), its current problem is exposure to some scuffling initial public offerings, such as Uber (NYSE:UBER) and Chewy (NYSE:CHWY). Investors looking to make small bets on those IPOs bouncing back may want to consider IBUY.
Global X E-commerce ETF (EBIZ)
Expense ratio: 0.5%
Data confirm online retail is the place to be right now and in the future. This underscores the potential of this retail ETF as a long-term holding for investors looking for growth exposure.
“The Census Bureau of the Department of Commerce announced today that the estimate of U.S. retail e-commerce sales for the third quarter of 2019, adjusted for seasonal variation, but not for price changes, was $154.5 billion, an increase of 5.0 percent (±0.4%) from the second quarter of 2019,” said the Commerce Department in a note out Tuesday.
Remember that e-commerce isn’t a phenomenon confined to the U.S. And EBIZ leverages investors to that theme by allocating nearly half its weight to international stocks.
Invesco Dynamic Retail ETF (PMR)
Expense ratio: 0.63%
Although it’s often overlooked relative to competing retail ETFs, the Invesco Dynamic Retail ETF (NYSEARCA:PMR) is one of the oldest members in the category at over 14 years old. Plus, PMR features a unique methodology that gives the fund one of the more compelling mixes of traditional and newer retailers.
PMR targets the Dynamic Retail Intellidex, and approximately 44% of its components are classified as value stocks. There is still some growth potential here as only 38% of the fund is devoted to large-cap equities.
Invesco S&P SmallCap Consumer Discretionary ETF (PSCD)
Expense ratio: 0.29%
Speaking of smaller stocks and the retail ETF category, the Invesco S&P SmallCap Consumer Discretionary ETF (NASDAQ:PSCD) is a fine way of getting small-cap retail exposure. However, PSCD has exposure to companies that aren’t retailers in the strictest sense of the term.
It’s home to 94 stocks, a broad lineup for a small-cap sector fund. PSCD features some exposure to home and dining stocks as well as parts of the automobile ecosystem. Specialty and apparel retailers combine for almost 43% of PSCD’s weight.
PSCD is more volatile than broader small-cap benchmarks. There are times when it outperforms, but there are also periods when it lags.
ProShares Long Online/Short Stores ETF (CLIX)
Expense ratio: 0.65%
Consider the ProShares Long Online/Short Stores ETF (NYSEARCA:CLIX) to be a best of both worlds play among retail ETFs. It’s designed to be long online retailers and short vulnerable brick-and-mortar operators. In other words, there is some risk involved with this retail ETF, but not as much as with EMTY.
“CLIX combines a 100% long position in retailers that primarily sell online or through other non-store channels with a 50% short position in those that rely principally on physical stores,” according to ProShares. “Investors have the opportunity to benefit from both outperforming online and underperforming physical retailers. The long/short structure also reduces equity market exposure and potentially results in less volatility than long-only equity strategies.”
CLIX is the first retail ETF designed to capture both of the seismic shifts in the retail universe. Know what you’re betting on with CLIX from the long side as Amazon and Alibaba (NYSE:BABA) combine for 36% of the fund’s weight.
VanEck Vectors Retail ETF (RTH)
Expense ratio: 0.35%
The VanEck Vectors Retail ETF (NYSEAMERICAN:RTH) holds 25 stocks and feels like a traditional approach among retail ETFs, but dig deeper and you’ll find an interesting surprise. RTH allocates 18.7% of its weight to shares of Amazon, good for one of the largest weights to that stock among U.S.-listed ETFs.
Amazon is RTH’s most significant play on e-commerce. The rest of the fund leans heavily on brick-and-mortar retailers, but those other holdings are higher quality names. RTH holds Home Depot, Target and Walmart.
Come for the Amazon exposure and stay for the traditional retail leaders with RTH.
As of this writing, Todd Shriber did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.