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The S&P 500 Retail Group (XRT) has underperformed the broader markets this year, down 4 percent while the is up 2 percent over that time. With Black Friday less than three weeks away, however, one strategist says the retail stocks should soon catch up.
"There are individual trends within stocks, but I think if you're looking for retail, this is a very good time to be in the group," said Paul Hickey of Bespoke Investment Group on CNBC's "Fast Money " this week.
The analyst looked at the XRT, the ETF that tracks the performance of the retail group in the S&P 500. Hickey noted that since 2000, the XRT tends to outperform the broader markets in the month leading up to Thanksgiving.
However, immediately following Thanksgiving, those stocks tend to fall, according to Hickey's chart work.
"You do see a leg higher in the relative strength towards this mid-October to late-November period," he said. "From there investors start getting away from the sector and you hear bad news about the individual companies," according Hickey.
"If you're interested in the group and individual names you should be buying now," said Hickey.
Specifically, Hickey sees potential gains in four stocks in particular: Barnes & Noble, Urban Outfitters, Dillard's & Abercrombie & Fitch. According to Hickey's analysis, those stocks were the best performers in the month leading up to Thanksgiving since 2000.
Barnes & Noble leads the group, with the stock averaging a gain of 9.1 percent month-to-date in November through Thanksgiving, with positive returns two-thirds of the time. "There's only been one down year during this bull market where the stock has been down during that period," said Hickey.
Other consistent gainers are Urban Outfitters, Dillard's and Abercrombie —each respectively gaining 7.8 percent, 7.3 percent and 6.3 percent, he added.