- "I think the consumer is in good shape," says Brian Nagel of Oppenheimer.
- Retail sales were up 4.2% year over year.
- However, Refinitiv is less optimistic when looking at consumer confidence
Brian Nagel, an analyst at Oppenheimer, remains optimistic
"Clearly, there's a lot of reasons to be worried," Nagel told CNBC's "Squawk Box" Friday. "But Walmart is a great barometer for overall consumer spending. Year-on-year core retail sales were at 4.2%, which was the best in the last several months.
"I think the consumer is in good shape here."
Not everyone views the retail sector with the same optimism. Jharonne Martis, director of Consumer research at Refinitiv, sees signs of instability looming , despite some positive data.
"July retail sales suggested the consumer is still engaged," Martis said on "Squawk Box." "The worry is ... if retailers cannot make it in this state, just imagine in an all-out trade war recession. If a retailer can't make it now, what would happen then?"
Refinitiv's Q2 Retail Earnings Report finds that the ongoing U.S.-China trade war is weighing on retail earnings. The retail analysts polled by Refinitiv are "cautious" about earnings expectations.
"The Refinitiv latest reading shows that the consumer is paying attention to all the sirens that are going off," Martis told "Squawk Box." "As a result, they are worried about their future job security.
"It's not just the consumer," Martis said. "Retailers are also telling us not to expect too much from them in the third quarter. To date, we've received 19 negative pre-announcements, compared to only 7 positive."
Martis and Nagel agree that in an environment where so many retailers are posting negative guidance, Walmart's positive guidance was a good sign.
So in a fluctuating retail sector, where does Nagel see opportunity to shield from global risk and recession fears?
"Nike and Lululemon are taking advantage of this digital revolution -- both those companies are performing really, really well. And home improvement names ... mortgage rates have come down significantly, and that's a big stimulus when you think about consumers making that type of purchase."
When it comes to retailers being left behind Nagel tries to look at the bigger picture. "I don't know how indicative those are when we're looking at the overall health of the economy," he said.