Will Kohl's (KSS) Get a Back-to-School Boost?

August 18, 2021

Will Kohl's (KSS) Get a Back-to-School Boost?

LikeFolio data reveals a mixed signal heading into Earnings. Demand dropped notably in the quarter being reported, while happiness made modest improvements. This is somewhat in line with overarching patterns we observe when mention volume falls: the remaining consumers talking about Kohl's are loyal. In the retail space at large, Kohl's falls in the bottom half of the pack.

While Kohl's Happiness is higher vs. Macy's, it is lower vs. all other peers we're tracking, including department stores, big box retailer Target, and eCommerce giant Amazon. Last quarter, KSS shares fell more than -10% even as the retailer handily beat expectations and raised guidance. Some investors noted a low bar vs. last year when stores were shuttered. Others wondered if stimulus-induced spend could continue to boost sales. LikeFolio data doesn't show a robust change in trajectory for KSS, at least in Q2, evident on the quarterly bar chart below.

However, data reveals some positive notes for the existing quarter. The back-to-school shopping surge is real. Back-to-school shopping mentions are up +92% YoY, and Target even noted strength on its call today from back to school clothing and supplies, and college students finally moving out of childhood bedrooms. We have Kohl's specific back-to-school mentions +20% YoY, but this is lower than the activity we recorded in Target. Kohl's cash also shows signed of elevated activity vs. last year, with mentions of using the reward currency up +16% YoY. Big picture, what we haven't seen is major brand partnerships move the needle for the company. In the last few years, Kohl's has attempted partnerships with Weight Watchers, Amazon returns, and now Sephora...and our data hasn't recorded a major lift alongside any of these launches. KSS reports 21Q2 earnings August 19 before the bell.

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