As pandemic pressures ease and the cadence of vaccinations accelerates, we expect the retail sector to experience broad-based improvement. Operating profit will grow a robust 10 percent to 12 percent in 2021, and hard-hit sectors such as apparel, department stores, and off-price will see the most pronounced operating profit growth over the next 12 to 18 months. That said, our positive outlook could be short-lived given the lapping of weak performance in the first half of last year.

Mickey Chadha, a Moody’s vice president and senior credit officer, commenting in a press release this week in which the ratings agency said its outlook for U.S. retail and apparel sector “changed to positive as ….. business conditions improve.”