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Investors should be concerned about these retail stocks into back-to-school season, Jefferies warns

A college student shops for backpacks with her little sister while back to school shopping in Dedham, MA.
Tamir Kalifa | The Boston Globe | Getty Images

Jefferies reined in expectations for back-to-school sales after its consumer survey showed a "marked shift" in customer intentions to buy apparel this fall.

Jefferies surveyed more than 500 consumers to gauge shopping intentions for the 2017 back-to-school season and concluded that department stores and specialty apparel are set for the most cutbacks.

"Respondents anticipate spending less at almost all department stores surveyed," wrote Jefferies analyst Daniel Binder. "Data for JC Penney, Sears, and Macy's is concerning given these concepts show sharp anticipated declines in purchase intentions this year and/or they are marking two consecutive years of declines."

Department store stocks have dropped sharply this year, with Macy's down 33 percent, Target down 18 percent, and Kohl's down 12 percent.