In the week leading up to Black Friday and in the days thereafter, the clear outperformers in the stock market are the retailers participating in the holiday shopping phenomenon themselves.
The shares are already on the comeback trail heading into Thanksgiving week 2017, as companies including Nike, L Brands, Wal-Mart, Gap, Ulta Beauty and Foot Locker all finish the week on a positive note. The S&P 500 Retail ETF (XRT) was up more than 2.8 percent alone on Friday.
Since 2007, the top U.S. equities sector in the period spanning from one week before to one week after Black Friday has been retail, a CNBC analysis using hedge fund analytics tool Kensho found.
A grouping of S&P 500 retail stocks, on average, posts returns of 5 percent during that time frame, according to Kensho. That compares with the S&P 500 index's average return of about 3 percent, and consumer discretionary stocks seeing about 4.5 percent growth in their share prices.
The search looked at the last 10 Black Friday periods.
To be sure, competition is heightened this holiday season as traditional retailers pit themselves against e-commerce platforms such as Amazon.com.
But a recent slew of upbeat quarterly earnings hints that many companies are optimistic about their holiday plans, with some even upping their full-year outlooks as they bet on a spike in sales to round out 2017.
Wal-Mart shares reached an all-time high, surging more than 10 percent, on Thursday after the big-box retailer posted earnings and same-store sales that outpaced Street expectations. The company also raised its earnings forecast for fiscal 2018.
"As usual, we expect Walmart to largely set the tone on multiple fronts and in multiple categories for the Holiday season," Moody's retail analyst Charlie O'Shea wrote in a note to clients.
Retail rival Target held a more conservative tone when discussing the upcoming quarter, sparking an alarm among investors and sending shares lower Wednesday. But Target's stock was climbing again nearly 4 percent by Friday afternoon.
Off-price brands are giving retailers another reason to celebrate — shares of Ross Stores and Old Navy's parent company, Gap, were climbing 8.5 and 7 percent, respectively, by Friday afternoon. Both companies reported earnings and sales Thursday after the bell that topped analysts' expectations.