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    Merchant Forecast is a leading
    independent research provider for institutional investors in the retail and consumer sector

    See what we do

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    Retailers evaluating other retailers on the ground generate actionable ideas

    See our methodology

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    Research that comes
    from a large group
    of core retailers

    See our coverage

What We Do

Merchant Forecast is a leading independent research provider for institutional investors in the retail and consumer sector. Our clients are an exclusive list of the nation’s largest and most respected mutual funds, hedge funds, investment managers and private equity funds.

The M4 Report

In-depth focus on four companies per week. Tracks key drivers like sales, traffic, inventory, promotions and pricing. Takes a view on management quality and delivers M4’s clear view on the outlook for the company. Report includes analysis of macro trends and quick data points on other retailers.

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      Mall Metrics – Weekly

      Flash view of key indicators across M4’s core 35 retail names. M4 grades each company A to D and updates weekly to provide its most succinct judgment across the sector. Includes year-over-year promotional posture and depth of those promotions.

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      Shopping Bag Count – Monthly

      Monthly read on what the shopping bags are saying. Field team members identify the first 30 shopping bags they see; results are aggregated by store (excluding department stores). This simple yet powerful indicator – with seven years of back data – has proven to be predictive of shifts in market share and overall sales trends.

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      Luxury Report – Quarterly

      Qualitative analysis of bookings and trends in the luxury sector, by brand. Both private and public companies are covered in comprehensive detail. Color, judgment and insight from one of the most seasoned merchants in the luxury space.

Custom Research

M4′s field team can provide extensive reach (up to 200 locations nationwide) for customized research projects and exclusive content on diverse topics, including management team evaluations, overseas quotas, manufacturing and more. Clients receive detailed findings and interpretation (with follow-up phone calls), plus exclusive use of the research.

We get creative: if the company you are looking at has physical locations our team can cover it. We have done custom projects for clients on companies as diverse as Tractor Supply Company, Party City and Panera Bread. Our national team of retailers is on the ground ready to answer your questions.


Specialized Services

In-depth focus on four companies per week. Tracks key drivers like sales, traffic, inventory, promotions and pricing. Takes a view on management quality and delivers M4's clear view on the outlook for the company. Report includes analysis of macro trends and quick data points on other retailers.

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    Mall Tours

    M4's senior merchants take clients on regular walking tours of a regional mall and provide expert insight into how retailers are executing their individual strategies. The tours are one-on-one events and are available only to our clients.
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    Back To School / Holiday Coverage

    During these two key selling periods M4 hosts weekly conference calls with clients. M4's senior merchants analyze trends and provide company-by-company commentary.
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    Idea Dinners

    Clients meet quarterly with a selection of top merchants and designers in small-group informal settings.
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    Access to Senior Analysts

    Clients receive unlimited support from M4's senior analysts. The M4 team helps clients interpret reports, assess opportunities, test invest- ment theses and structure custom research. Clients can specify how they want to be covered and with what frequency.
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    Focus Groups

    Clients can commission customized focus groups. M4 assembles the customer group (e.g., juniors, moms, college kids, teens) and leads the discussion while the client observes from behind one-way glass. The client picks the topic, questions and companies or brands. M4 delivers a full report with findings and interpretation.


M4 has built an ever-growing proprietary field team of over 150 retailers in 90 malls around the country who complete weekly questionnaires on activity in their mall stores (although never on their own stores). M4's senior merchant team analyzes the results and generates actionable ideas at the company and sector levels, with color and judgment.

M4 is in the malls every day so you don't have to be, with retail professionals uniquely qualified to assess the environment and spot significant shifts. This unique methodology, combining eyewitness observation with statistical analysis, provides a high degree of confidence.

No one can evaluate a retailer
better than another retailer


Core Coverage

Abercrombie & Fitch ANF
American Apparel APP
American Eagle Outfitters AEO
Ann Inc. ANN
Ascena ASNA
bebe BEBE
Buckle BKE
Caché CACH
Carter's CRI
Chico's CHS
The Children's Place PLCE
Coach COH
Crocs CROX
Deckers DECK
Delia's DLIA
Dillard's DDS
Express EXPR
Finish Line FINL
Five Below FIVE
Foot Locker FL
Fossil FOSL
Francesca's Collections FRAN
G-III Apparel GIII
Genesco GCO
Guess GES
Hanes Brands HBI
Iconix ICON
JCPenney JCP
Kate Spade & Company KATE
Kohl's KSS
Limited Brands LB
lululemon athletica LULU
Macy's Inc. M
Men's Wearhouse MW
Michael Kors KORS
New York & Co. NWY
Nike NKE
Nordstrom JWN
Pacific Sunwear PSUN
Phillips-Van Heusen PVH
Ralph Lauren RL
Restoration Hardware RH
Quiksilver ZQK
Ross Stores ROST
Signet Jewelers SIG
Skechers SKX
Steve Madden SHOO
Target TGT
Tiffany & Co. TIF
Tilly's TLYS
T.J.Maxx TJX
Under Armour UA
Urban Outfitters URBN
Vera Bradley VRA
VF Corp. VFC
Williams-Sonoma WSM
Wet Seal WTSL
Zumiez ZUMZ

Project Capabilities Outside Core

Elizabeth Arden RDEN
Estée Lauder EL
Revlon REV
*Ulta ULTA
Bon-Ton BONT
*Dillard’s DDS
Hudson Bay Company
*JCPenney JCP
*Kohl’s KSS
*Macy’s Inc. M
*Nordstrom JWN
*Sears Holdings Corp. SHLD
*Target TGT
Walmart WMT
Food & Beverage
AFC Enterprises AFCE
B&G Foods BGS
BJ’s Restaurants BJRI
Bravo’s Brio BBRG
Brinker International EAT
Buffalo Wild Wings BWLD
Burger King Worldwide BKW
Cheesecake Factory CAKE
Chipotle Mexican Grill CMG
Darden Restaurants DRI
Del Frisco’s DFRG
Dunkin’ Brands Group DNKN
Einstein Noah BAGL
The Fresh Market TFM
Fiesta Restaurant Group FRGI
Ignite Restaurant Group IRG
Kroger KR
McDonald’s Corporation MCD
Noodles & Company NDLS
Panera Bread Company PNRA
Red Robin RRGB
Ruth’s Hospitality Group RUTH
Safeway SWY
Sonic Corp. SONC
Starbucks Corporation SBUX
United Natural Foods UNFI
Vitamin Shoppe VS
Wendy’s WEN
Whole Foods WFM
Yum! Brands YUM
Brown Shoe Co. BWS
*Crocs CROX
*Deckers DECK
*Finish Line FINL
*Foot Locker FL
*Genesco GCO
Nike NKE
*Skechers SKX
Shoe Carnival SCVL
*Steve Madden SHOO
Wolverine WWW
Advance Auto Parts AAP
AutoZone AZO
Best Buy BBY
Home Depot HD
Lowe’s LOW
Lumber Liquidators LL
Monro Muffler Brake MNRO
O’Reily Automotive ORLY
Office Depot ODP
PetSmart PETM
Select Comfort SCSS
Tractor Supply Co. TSCO
Home Goods
Bed Bath & Beyond BBBY
Kirkland’s KIRK
Pier 1 Imports PIR
*Restoration Hardware RH
The Container Store TSC
*Williams-Sonoma WSM
Brunello Cucinelli
Christian Dior
Movado MOV
*Tiffany & Co. TIF
*Carter’s CRI
*G-III Apparel GIII
*Hanes Brands HBI
*Iconix ICON
Li & Fung
Luxottica LUX
*Oxford Industries OXM
*Phillips-Van Heusen PVH
*VF Corp. VFC
Big Lots BIG
Burlington Stores BURL
Dollar General DG
Dollar Tree DLTR
Family Dollar FDO
*Five Below FIVE
*Ross Stores ROST
Syms Corp SYM
Stage Stores SSI
Stein Mart SMRT
*T.J.Maxx TJX
Charming Charlie
Forever 21
Hot Topic
J Crew
Kellwood Company
Kenneth Cole
Lord & Taylor
Love Culture
Nieman Marcus
Party City
Rue 21
Sur La Table
Toys R Us
True Religion
Yankee Candle
Speciality Retail
*Abercrombie & Fitch ANF
Activision Blizzard Inc. ATVI
*Aéropostale ARO
*American Apparel APP
*American Eagle Outfitters AEO
*Ann Inc. ANN
*Ascena ASNA
*bebe BEBE
Black Diamond Inc. BDE
Body Central BODY
*Buckle BKE
Build-a-Bear BBW
Cabela’s CAB
*Caché CACH
Casual Male Retail Group DXLG
Cherokee CHKE
*Chico’s CHS
Columbia Sportswear COLM
Citi Trends CTRN
*The Children’s Place PLCE
Christopher & Banks CBK
*Coach COH
*Delia’s DLIA
Delta Apparel Inc DLA
Destination Maternity DEST
Dick’s Sporting Goods DKS
*Express EXPR
Fast Retailing
*Fossil FOSL
*Francesca’s Collections FRAN
Frederick’s of Hollywood FOH
*Gap GPS
GameStop GME
Gordmans Stores GMAN
*Guess GES
H & M
Hasbro Inc. HAS
Inter Parfums IPAR
Kate Spade & Company KATE
LeapFrog LF
*Limited Brands LB
*lululemon athletica LULU
Mattel MAT
*Men’s Wearhouse MW
*Michael Kors KORS
*New York & Co. NWY
*Pacific Sunwear PSUN
Perry Ellis PERY
*Quiksilver ZQK
RadioShack RSH
*Ralph Lauren RL
Signet Jewelers SIG
*Tilly’s TLYS
*Under Armour UA
*Urban Outfitters URBN
*Vera Bradley VRA
*Wet Seal WTSL
*Zumiez ZUMZ

*Indicates Core Coverage

Our Founder


Dan Hess

Founder & CEO
Dan has covered the retail sector for institutional clients since 2001 and has built a strong reputation in the buy-side community. He is considered an expert and thought leader in the retail space, and is well-versed on the operational, merchandising and financial aspects of the space. Dan does not make buy/sell recommendations, but he does help clients understand what is happening in real time from every angle, whether it’s bottom-up or top-down. Since founding Merchant Forecast in 2001, he has developed a strong track record of predicting key inflection points in the industry. Merchant Forecast has industry-high renewal percentages because Dan and his team add value by sticking to what they know: retailing. Many of the nation’s top institutional investors count on Dan as a key resource and on Merchant Forecast as a critical part of their investment process.
Before founding Merchant Forecast, Dan spent 14 years in senior level retail merchandising roles, including Director of Marketing for Macy’s East and a member of Federated’s Merchandising Steering Committee. Prior to starting Merchant Forecast, Dan founded Body & Soul, a specialty intimate apparel chain catering to urban ethnic consumers, which was sold to Urban Brands Inc. Dan holds a BA from the University of Pennsylvania.


Merchant Forecast LLC continues to abide by a strict code of conduct and Compliance Manual to ensure compliance with all applicable laws, rules and regulations and the highest level of business ethics and standards.

All retail industry information attained during the course of its independent real-time research is not influenced or obtained by the use of any deceptive or otherwise unlawful business practices or devices, including the use of insider or material non-public information.

Merchant Forecast LLC continues its historic policy of not engaging current retail management personnel for information regarding their employer or affiliates of their employer in the preparation of its M4 Report and/or custom research reports and does not provide nor receive compensation to/from the retailers or entities covered in its reports.



Send a Message

Contact Info

41 E. 11th Street
11th Floor
New York, NY 10003

P/ 212.774.6021
E/ info@m4cast.com