Soaring viewership leads to surge in sales for Qurate Retail, Inc.

A look at the top non-store 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.

Among all the agonizing over the calamitous drop in retail sales this spring, the small percentage of non-store sales continued to grow. For example: In April, retail sales plunged a seasonally adjusted 16.4 percent according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, but sales at non-store retailers expanded 8.4 percent during the same month.

NRF 2020 Top 100 Retailers

View the complete NRF 2020 Top 100 Retailers list.

Qurate Retail, Inc., the corporate parent of both QVC and HSN, was challenged going into 2020, hampered by cord-cutters who no longer watched broadcast television. But once the coronavirus began spreading and quarantines, shelter-in-place and self-isolation were the order of the day, viewership on Qurate’s TV channels jumped 10 percent. More spectacularly, viewership of original content and live shows soared 100 percent across social platforms.

Qurate, which also owns online retailer Zulily, reaches about 80 million consumers through cable and satellite TV providers, down from a high of 99 million just a few years ago, according to CEO Mike George. The coronavirus hit Zulily particularly hard because it relies heavily on Chinese vendors and carries little inventory of its own. “As a result, we’ve had to remove a number of daily events and product lines from our Zulily offerings,” George said.

“It’s too early to assess potential sales challenges to our other businesses, but we will continue to take actions as developments unfold. Whether the sales surge during the stay-at-home period was a fleeting phenomenon or the start of something big remains to be seen.”

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