Omicron sparks earnings warnings from retailers

No holiday cheer at some leading American retailers. They’re issuing warnings ahead of earnings season, and they’re pointing the finger at the Omicron variant.

American Eagle Outfitters signaled Tuesday that supply chain snarls and disruptions caused by the surge of infections hampered its revenue growth. The apparel chain lowered its forecast for top line growth in the holiday quarter.

Also on Tuesday: Its rival, Abercrombie & Fitch said it lost sales during the holiday season because it lacked inventory to keep pace with customer demand … while Urban Outfitters said its stores saw lower traffic in November and December.

The renewed surge in COVID-19 cases forced some retailers to cut operating hours during the busiest shopping period of the year. It also led to shortages in staffing and inventory. On Monday, Lululemon said just that: Omicron forced the yoga pants maker to cut staff and store hours, denting its holiday performance.

A&F, however, voiced some optimism, noting that now that its inventory has improved, sales have accelerated in the post-holiday period, sending its shares higher in early trading Tuesday.

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