ETF Investors Go on a Retail Shopping Spree

(Bloomberg) -- Investors in exchange-traded funds aren’t waiting for back-to-school season to start betting on retail stocks.

The $650 million SPDR S&P Retail ETF, or XRT, had 8.2 million shares worth $420 million trade on Thursday, almost double the average daily turnover over past year. The largest retail focused ETF is at a record high and on track for inflows of more than $14 million this week, up from $5 million last week.

ETF Investors Go on a Retail Shopping Spree

“The industry has historically reported the weakest performance during the May through September period, as investors take their own vacations,” Lindsey Bell, investment strategist at CFRA Research, wrote in a note to clients Thursday. “This summer hasn’t exactly gone by script.”

The S&P 500 Retailing Industry Group Index is up 33 percent for the year and 14 percent since the start of May. Wayfair Inc., Office Depot Inc., online used car dealer Carvana Co. are the largest contributors to the fund’s performance over the past 12 months, along with Inc. and Netflix Inc. Bell believes the strength of the U.S. consumer still hasn’t been fully baked into the stocks.

“Retail sales from clothing stores, department stores and online have been strong in the past three months and will be key in the success of retailers this quarter,” she wrote.

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