A Democratic sweep could spell trouble for retailers, according to Wells Fargo.
A new report from the bank identifies two campaign promises by Joe Biden that would be especially troubling to retailers: his vow to increase the corporate income tax from 21% to 28% and raise the federal minimum wage to $15, up from its current $7.25 an hour.
If these two initiatives were to become law, retailers, on average, could see a “headwind” in earnings per share between 9% and 11%.
Biden’s vow to increase taxes would be the worst of them.
“First and foremost is taxes … That’s clearly a negative,” Ike Boruchow, a Wells Fargo senior analyst and co-author of the report, told CNBC on Thursday.
Regarding Biden’s minimum wage increase, Boruchow said that many retailers already pay their workers more than what is mandated, but it’s likely not as high as $15. This means increased payroll costs for most retailers.
Retailers such as the Gap, Urban Outfitters, and Dick’s Sporting Goods that have lower profit margins, could struggle to absorb these costs, according to the Wells Fargo report.
Retailers better positioned to weather these increases are Skechers, Ralph Lauren, Adidas, and Lululemon Athletica.
The report also designated as a “wild card” the chance that Washington advances another relief package that could offset the negative consequence of Biden’s policies.
It also notes that retailers benefited from the CARES Act, which was enacted in March. Many of its provisions have expired.
The retail industry got a shot in the arm, with sales increasing 1.9% in September, the U.S. Census Bureau reported Friday. The sector also experienced a 5.4% increase from September of 2019.
One of the highest performing sectors in September was the clothing and accessories stores, which saw an 11% increase in sales when compared to August. However, when compared to September 2019, sales for this sector are down 12.5%.
Matthew Shay, president and CEO at the National Retail Federation, praised the jump in sales last month and said federal relief contributed to it.
“September retail sales reflect the support of government measures and elevated savings that is being spent now that consumers are shopping again,” he said.
Additional relief from Washington would put money in consumer’s pockets, but advancing such a plan is unlikely before the election, according to White House national economic council director Larry Kudlow.
“You only got … 18 days [until the election] … So, even if you made a deal, it would be almost impossible to execute,” he said on Friday.