Retailers providing differentiated merchandise and compelling shopping experiences are dominating a list of "Hot 100 Retailers" compiled by research firm Kantar Retail and released on Tuesday in the National Retail Federation’s August issue of its STORES magazine, according to a press release.
While six e-commerce retailers are in the top 10 on the list, most in the top 100 are either traditional retailers or omnichannel ones, according to the report. Fewer than 10 are pure-play digital retailers.
Meal kit company Blue Apron tops the list, (having delivered more than 150 million meals since its founding five years ago, with annual sales growth last year of 133% percent to $795.4 million), followed by online furniture retailer Wayfair (with sales growth of 54% last year to $2.9 billion). Third is Ascena Retail Group, parent of Ann Taylor, Catherines, Dress Barn, Lane Bryant and Maurices.
Innovation is the overarching message from the STORES magazine report, although the top three companies on Kantar’s list, while providing the exciting merchandise and experience touted by the NRF, are all faltering in different ways.
The recent news that Amazon, bolstered by its plans to acquire Whole Foods, is getting into the meal kit business was a major blow to Blue Apron, which even after its June initial public offering has been marketing furiously to acquire new customers and whose stock has fallen precipitously since its IPO despite the slashing of its initial share price.
Meanwhile, Wayfair’s profits have been elusive and it faces increasing competition from the likes of Amazon and Target. And Ascena is reducing its store count across its brands as traffic and sales decline.
Still, growth is found among retailers with compelling assortments and experiences. "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 in a statement. "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."