Mutual funds, pensions and endowments are unloading U.S. consumer stocks at the fastest pace in at least 14 years.
Institutions controlling $16.4 trillion sold $1.8 billion more than they bought of department stores, distillers and hoteliers in August, according to data compiled by State Street Corp.
As companies from Nordstrom Inc. to Fortune Brands Inc. more than doubled from the market's low in March, the biggest investors became net sellers, Bloomberg News data shows. Schroders PLC, the U.K.'s second-largest publicly traded money manager, chopped its stake in Nordstrom by 85% last quarter.
"There's concern by consumers about everything, not only future employment but also the value of their house and their retirement plans," said Randy Bateman, the chief investment officer at the asset management unit of Huntington Bancshares Inc. of Columbus, Ohio, which oversees $12 billion.
"Whenever you have a question mark with regard to their ability to spend, you're going to have a drawback in those stocks," he said.