Kohl’s reaps rewards from investments in omnichannel and national growth

A look at the top mass apparel retailers from NRF’s 2020 Top Retailers list

The National Retail Federation’s annual report on the Top 100 Retailers is based on sales for the most recently completed fiscal year. The Power Player charts look at retailers with 2019 U.S. sales equal to or greater than 10 percent of sales of the category leader.

Like most of the mass apparel power players, Kohl’s closed the majority of its stores during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unlike many of its rivals, however, Kohl’s has a robust ecommerce business that accounted for about one-quarter of total sales last year.

Those online orders provided Kohl’s a lifeline during mandatory store shutdowns, but even that was squeezed when FedEx balked at the number of packages it was picking up at Kohl’s locations, and those of about two dozen other retailers.

NRF 2020 Top 100 Retailers

View the complete NRF 2020 Top 100 Retailers list.

FedEx decided to limit the parcels it would accept, telling employees, “In a time of already high-volume growth, capping the number of packages to be picked up at these locations will limit any negative impacts to the FedEx Ground network.” Kohl’s was cautious in its response, noting only that it has “levers to work with,” such as scheduling a variety of delivery windows, to manage its higher volume of online shipments.

Whether Kohl’s will emerge from the crisis less scathed than its competitors remains to be seen, but Fitch Ratings service said it has a fighting chance. “[Kohl’s] should be able to accelerate market share gains post the discretionary downturn,” Fitch said.

And as more stores reopen, Fitch said, “Kohl’s multi-year investments in areas such as developing omnichannel capabilities, store remodels, growing its national brand presence and increased activewear penetration should allow it to grow sales and compete more effectively.”

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