It may come as a real surprise, but Amazon.com was not rated No. 1 among the National Retail Federation’s Hot 100 list of fastest-growing retailers. In fact, it wasn’t even No. 2 or No. 3.
The Hot 100 list is compiled for NRF by the research firm of Kantar Consulting. The end report ranks both public and privately-held companies by their 2017 sales growth in the United States compared to 2016, with a $300 million sales threshold set for inclusion on the list.
At No. 1 – boasting only a fraction of the revenue generated by its top competitors – is the clothing and accessories retailer Primark, which sells low-price, high-volume goods.
The Dublin, Ireland-based company has grown rapidly since its first U.S. store opened in 2015, with annual sales increasing 103% over two years to $489 million in 2017.
Coming in at No. 2 is outdoor sports and recreation retailer Bass Pro Shops, growing 94% to $7.3 billion. At No. 3 is online home improvement and appliance retailer Build.com, with sales up 47% to $1.3 billion due to a healthy housing boom and artificial reality-enabled product viewing.
At No. 4 is Amazon, which grew a not-too-shabby 45% to $103 billion in 2017. It continued to tailor products to customers while expanding its online marketplace, adding physical stores and buying the Whole Foods supermarket chain, NRF notes.
“As always, the Hot 100 is a compendium of the best strategies retailers are using to grow in this omnichannel world,” says Kantar Consulting Chief Knowledge Officer Bryan Gildenberg.
“This year, the classic ‘four Ps’ of marketing have become the ‘four Ss’ – the Hot 100 use speed, seamlessness, specialization and scale by acquisition as their core platforms for growth,” Gildenberg points out.
At No. 5 in the NRF rankings is the online home goods retailer Wayfair, which grew 36% to $4.1 billion. Following that at No. 6 is handbag retailer Tapestry (formerly known as Coach), which grew 33% to $3.6 billion.
No. 7 is the pet goods and services retailer PetSmart, which benefited from its acquisition of Chewy.com to increase 28% to $8.3 billion. No. 8 discount retailer Five Below was up 28% at $1.3 billion. No. 9 cosmetics and fragrance retailer Ulta Salon rose 28% at $5.9 billion, and No. 10 is pet retailer Pet Retail Brands, up 27% to $1.3 billion in sales.
(Retailers show the same percentage of growth due to rounding, while rankings data is not rounded).
Sara Al-Tukhaim, senior vice president at Kantar Consulting, explains that, “Shoppers are feeling good about the economy. Job rates are at an all-time high. ‘Haves’ are expecting tax cuts to boost income growth.”
She adds, “All of this is translating to spending including home buying, and more discretionary spending such as home improvement projects, experiences, beauty and the like.”
Al-Tukhaim stresses that most of the retailers on the list share a common characteristic in that they offer to meet very targeted consumer needs.
NRF also observes that many of the fastest growing retailers maintain a strong presence in the bricks-and-mortar end of retailing, including Amazon, which is opening store locations and now has a major presence in that world because of its purchase of Whole Foods.
Primark prefers to confine its on-trend, low-priced goods selling at high volume exclusively in bricks-and-mortar environments. “The cost to support home delivery can’t be supported with our price points,” says John Bason, chief financial officer of Primark’s parent firm, Associated British Foods.