Prospects for the retail sector may be dismal in 2017, but that has not stopped investors from piling in. The general retailers index has gained 4.2% in the year to date, while stocks in the food and drug retailers index have added 8.13%. Both are outpacing the all share, which is up 3.29% so far. IG’s senior market analyst Shaun Murison said the retail sector should not be avoided at present and value had to be viewed on a case-by-case basis. The food side of the sector provided a defensive aspect to an investment, although profitability and margins were far smaller than those realised in the sale of apparel and merchandise. However, one had to be cognisant of the competitive nature of apparel retail, especially in women’s clothing, Murison said.

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