Trading Nation

As retail ETF paces for best quarter ever, traders say some of its best-performing stocks can keep rallying

Retail ETF paces for best quarter on record. What's driving the gains

The retail revival is real.

The SPDR S&P Retail ETF (XRT) has rallied 37% since April 1, pacing for its best quarter on record despite a slowdown in consumer spending and the U.S. savings rate spiking to an all-time high of 33%.

The XRT is still down 11% year to date, underperforming the broader S&P 500's nearly 6% loss.

Some of the stocks that have led the XRT higher this quarter are familiar names in the new stay-at-home environment, but others may come as a surprise. The winners since April 1 include:

Two of the group's top performers stood out to Craig Johnson, senior technical research analyst at Piper Sandler, the first being Wayfair.

"You've got a very high short interest, first and foremost, but you've also reversed a pretty meaningful downtrend in the stock," he told CNBC's "Trading Nation" on Friday, noting its chart.

"You're getting a little bit of a short-term consolidation, which, to me, is just a pause. We're not seeing a change in momentum in this stock," Johnson said. "Even though it's had a very good run and it's up about 88% or so year to date, I still think there's more to go and I would still be a buyer of Wayfair."

His other pick was under-the-radar juggernaut Tractor Supply Co., which has been quietly hitting records in recent weeks.

"This is a stock that still looks constructive," Johnson said, adding that its chart is also "showing positive momentum."

"Despite a nice run, I would still be buying Tractor Supply in here," he said. 

Steve Chiavarone, portfolio manager, equity strategist and vice president at Federated Hermes, wasn't surprised that e-commerce-focused, stay-at-home-friendly names such as Wayfair, Etsy and Stitch Fix were on the rise.

"I think the kind of big story here ... is the consumer is setting up for a big return," he said in the same "Trading Nation" interview. "Yes, spending was way down, but personal income was up 10.5%."

Between the government's stimulus package and the spike in personal savings, there could be enough cash on the sidelines to fuel a sustained comeback as soon as this year, Chiavarone said.

"In the back half of the year, you have this pile of cash that is going to serve as tinder against the backdrop of severely pent-up demand and I think that you're going to see the consumer come back, lift these names continuously but also broaden out to names that maybe have a little bit more of a brick-and-mortar presence as we reopen the economy," he said.

The XRT closed less than 1% higher on Friday.