Differentiation leads the pack for Hot 100 fastest-growing retailers

"The mix of both traditional and digital retailers on this year’s list reflects that. The secret to sustained growth going forward is a symbiotic relationship between digital and physical retailing."

Susan Reda
STORES Media Editor

WASHINGTON – Whether they sell through traditional stores, online or both, companies that provide unique offerings and experiences for consumers dominate the list of Hot 100 Retailers published today by the National Retail Federation’s STORES magazine.

“The retail industry is getting better at addressing shifts in shopping behaviors and thinking differently,” STORES Media Editor Susan Reda said. “What matters most to consumers is a retailer differentiating itself in the marketplace, being innovative with merchandise and offering the right value to the right person, not whether a retailer is ‘bricks or clicks.’ The mix of both traditional and digital retailers on this year’s list reflects that. The secret to sustained growth going forward is a symbiotic relationship between digital and physical retailing.”

The Hot 100 list of fastest-growing retailers, compiled by research firm Kantar Retail and published in the August issue of STORES, is based on sales growth in 2016 over 2015 and ranks both public and privately held retail companies by U.S. domestic sales, with a $300 million threshold for inclusion.

Topping the list is subscription meal kit company Blue Apron, which has delivered more than 150 million meals since it was founded five years ago and saw annual sales grow a dramatic 133 percent to $795.4 million in 2016.

Second is online furniture and home décor seller Wayfair, where sales grew 54 percent to $2.9 billion as it expanded its offerings to include greater price and quality ranges. Coming in third is longtime traditional retailer Ascena Retail Group — parent company of Ann Taylor, Catherines, Dress Barn, Lane Bryant and Maurices — which has been aggressive with mergers and acquisitions in recent years and had 50 percent sales growth at $7 billion. Following at No. 4 is online pet food seller Chewy.com with 48 percent growth to $900 million, followed at No. 5 by online building supply company Build.com/Wolseley, which grew 38 percent to $911 million.

Also included are No. 6 convenience store operator CST Brands, up 29 percent at $2.1 billion; No. 7 subscription fashion retailer JustFab, up 29 percent at $572 million; No. 8 supermarket and department store chain Grupo Comercial Chedraui, up 27 percent at $1.5 billion; No. 9 supermarket chain Gelson’s Markets, up 26 percent at $723 million; and No. 10 online giant Amazon.com, up 25 percent at $77 billion.

Online companies make up six of the top 10 companies, but the majority of retailers on the full Hot 100 list are either traditional retailers or retailers that sell both in-store and online. Fewer than 10 companies are pureplay ecommerce.

“This year’s Hot 100 confirms once again that retail growth is coming from a number of places, including less traditional channels in the industry,” Kantar Retail Chief Product Strategy and Marketing Officer Andrew Stockwell said. “While a tremendous amount of volume is still generated from big boxes, retail channels such as online, discount, club, drug and convenience are powering accelerated growth.”

Fourteen companies with ‘Sustained Sizzle’
Fourteen retailers are recognized as “sustained sizzlers” for having made the Hot 100 list each year since its inception in 2006. The list below includes their sales growth since 2011 and their 2017 ranking:

  1. Amazon.com – 192 percent (10)
  2. Aldi – 42 percent (40)
  3. Dollar General – 48 percent (47)
  4. Ross Stores – 49 percent (52)
  5. O’Reilly Automotive – 48 percent (51)
  6. Dick’s Sporting Goods – 52 percent (43)
  7. Tractor Supply Co. – 60 percent (44)
  8. Academy Sports + Outdoor – 156 percent (27)
  9. Ulta Salon, Cosmetics & Fragrance – 160 percent (11)
  10. Sprouts Farmers Market – 251 percent (30)
  11. Casey’s General Stores – 67 percent (55)
  12. Grocery Outlet – 197 percent (49)
  13. Sephora – 44 percent (67)
  14. Lululemon Athletica – 208 percent (38)

About Kantar Retail
We are the retail and shopper specialists. We help you sell more effectively and profitably. We are part of Kantar (kantar.com), the data investment management division of WPP (wpp.com) and one of the world’s leading insight, information and consultancy groups. Kantar Retail works with leading branded manufacturers and retailers to transform the purchase behavior of consumers and shoppers through the use of retail and shopper insights, purchase data tools and analytics, consulting solutions and retail virtual reality services. To learn more, visit us at kantarretail.com and download Kantar Retail’s Breakthrough Insights for a selection of our most impactful reports, forecasts and thought leadership. 

About NRF
The National Retail Federation is the world’s largest retail trade association. Based in Washington, D.C., NRF represents discount and department stores, home goods and specialty stores, Main Street merchants, grocers, wholesalers, chain restaurants and internet retailers from the United States and more than 45 countries. Retail is the nation’s largest private-sector employer, supporting one in four U.S. jobs — 42 million working Americans. Contributing $2.6 trillion to annual GDP, retail is a daily barometer for the nation’s economy. NRF.com