The impending resumption of student loan repayments in the United States is projected to affect the sales of prominent retailers like Nike (NYSE: NKE ), Urban Outfitters (NASDAQ: URBN ), and Foot Locker (NYSE: FL ). This is due to families potentially reducing their spending on apparel and footwear, according to a recent analysis by Jefferies released on Monday.
Jefferies analysts adjusted their outlook on these companies following this development. Randal Konik, one of the analysts, revised his stance on Nike shares from Buy to Hold and reduced his price target from $140 to $100. Corey Tarlowe, another analyst at Jefferies, downgraded his ratings for Urban Outfitters and Foot Locker from Buy to Hold. He also lowered the price target for these stocks to $31 (from $42) and $18 (from $28), respectively.
Consumer sentiment has been negatively impacted by persistently high inflation and rising interest rates, with several businesses reporting a decrease in consumer demand. Notably, Foot Locker revised its full-year forecast downwards back in August.
Jefferies analysts noted that the resumption of student loan payments isn't the only factor affecting the retail sector. A recent survey conducted by Jefferies among U.S. consumers with outstanding student loans either for themselves or their children found that between 46% and 54% of respondents plan to reduce their spending on clothing and footwear once the loan repayments restart on October 1st. This comes after a suspension due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Konik's research note echoed these concerns, highlighting that most U.S. consumers burdened with student debt are worried about meeting their monthly expenses and are likely to cut back on spending on clothing and footwear. The survey results indicated that 39% of respondents plan to opt for cheaper alternatives within apparel/accessories and 35% in footwear.
The market reacted to this changing consumer behavior in pre-market trading on Monday, with Urban Outfitters' shares falling by 3.9% to $30.65 and Foot Locker's shares declining by 2.7% to $17.28. Nike's shares also experienced a dip of 1.5%, settling at $89.50.
The companies did not immediately respond to requests for comment on these developments.
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