Luke Kawa

As a testament to the gloomy outlook for brick-and-mortar retailers, short interest in the SPDR S&P Retail ETF (ticker: XRT) has soared to 273 percent of float, the highest among U.S. equity products at the end of 2016. On Jan. 4, Macy’s Inc. and Kohl’s Corp. pointed to weak holiday sales when slashing their full-year earnings forecasts during the after-hours session.
 
 While non-store retailing is a fairly broad category, including mail-order programs and sales through infomercials, the most important part is pure-play e-commerce, like Amazon.com. (It’s important to note that sales made through the website of a brick-and-mortar retailer, like Kohls.com, are not included in this e-commerce segment.)