Growth in Retail Differed in Scope and Size in 2014, According to STORES Magazine

WASHINGTON--()--In retail, it pays to stand out from the crowd, and STORES Magazine’s 2015 Hot 100 Retailers list finds several of the fastest-growing companies in the U.S. have emerged head and shoulders above their competitors by honing a niche that clicks with today’s shopper. From strategic acquisitions and unconventional management styles to finding creative ways to expand their customer base, the Hot 100 class of 2015 is writing the next chapter in retail.

STORES Magazine’s annual Hot 100 Retailers list, which consists of retail companies that reported the greatest increase in domestic sales between 2013 and 2014, was released with its August 2015 issue. All public and private companies with more than $300 million in sales were eligible for the list, which was compiled by Kantar Retail.

“The best companies in retail today are those who are open to new ideas and nimble enough to bring those ideas to life; they’ve found ways to capitalize on their distribution networks and evolve their businesses to suit shoppers’ desires,” said STORES’ Editor Susan Reda. “Our list is a mix of established retailers like Nordstrom and Kroger along with newer players like Zulily and Choxi. All are focused on growth objectives and keeping customers in the center of every decision.”

Top 10 Fastest-Growing Retailers in the U.S.

Hudson’s Bay, with a year-over-year sales increase of 254 percent in 2014, was ranked the fastest-growing retailer in the United States. The Ontario-based company reported U.S. sales of more than $5.1 billion in 2014, with much of that growth stemming from the acquisition of U.S. luxury brand Saks, Inc.

Appearing for the first time on the Hot 100 List, pure-play e-retailer came in at No. 2 this year. The New York-based e-commerce company features daily deals on everyday items and offers a $2 flat shipping rate.

Zulily, another daily deal site, was ranked No. 3 this year. The Seattle-based company’s sales grew 73 percent to more than $1.1 billion.

G-III Apparel Group, No. 4, and Wayfair, No. 5 – also among the top 10 fastest-growing in 2014 – can credit acquisitions for their year-over-year growth. G-III Apparel operates stores under several well-known outlet and mall brands, including Wilsons Leather, Bass and G.H. Bass & Co. and saw sales grow 67 percent from 2013 to 2014. Wayfair now has five e-commerce brands under its umbrella, all catering to different niches in the home décor category, including luxury, modern and everyday furnishings. The online retailer’s sales grew 65 percent in 2014.

Both No. 8 Signet Jewelers and No. 9 Men’s Wearhouse acquired rivals in the past year, boosting their sales growth 49 percent and 44 percent, respectively. AT&T Wireless (No. 6), Office Depot (7), and Northern Tool and Equipment (10) round out the top 10.

Specialty, Apparel Retailers Find Their Niche

Several of the nation’s fastest-growing retailers can attribute their success to finding the right formula that works for their customer base.

Fast-fashion retailers H&M (13) and Forever 21 (58) continue to impress both teenagers and young adults with their flashy and relevant apparel lines. Sales at H&M grew 27 percent between 2013 and 2014, while sales at Forever 21 grew 9 percent during that time. Ross Stores (70) maintains its “no-frills” appearance and continues to see steady growth as the company added 37 stores in the first quarter of 2015.

Nordstrom, the stuff that retail urban legends are made of, landed at No., 78 this year. The Seattle-based company finds innovative ways to connect with its customers through omnichannel initiatives and stellar customer service.

And Dick’s Sporting Goods (53) has worked hard over the years to maintain its customer base, even with growing competition, by adding more apparel to its product offerings and launching a women’s apparel “athleisure” line.

“In addition to being close to their customers, it’s no surprise that many of the apparel specialists on the list are positioned to play at the ‘value-oriented’ end of the retail spectrum,” according to Mary Brett Whitfield, SVP at Kantar Retail. “Despite an improved economic picture, shoppers have not relinquished their quest for good deals.”

Six Retailers Maintain “Sustained Sizzle” Status

Six retailers have appeared in every Hot 100 List since its inception in 2006. These companies have mastered the shopping experience with a mix of customer service, product differentiation, omnichannel benefits and price and promotional offerings. The “Sustained Sizzlers”, listed in order of total sales growth (and with 2015 rank):

  • – 1,069% (18)
  • O’Reilly Automotive – 353% (62)
  • Tractor Supply Co. – 282% (38)
  • Dick’s Sporting Goods – 259% (53)
  • Dollar Tree – 247% (57)
  • Ross Stores – 212% (70)

Separately, STORES’ Hot 100 feature also examines the fastest-growing restaurant chains in the country. The top 10 in order of increased market share from 2013 to 2014 are:

  • Chipotle Mexican Grill (120)
  • Starbucks (119)
  • Chick-fil-A (74)
  • Panda Express (23)
  • Zaxby’s (20)
  • Whataburger (20)
  • Little Caesars (20)
  • Domino’s (20)
  • Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen (16)
  • Jersey Mike’s Subs (16)

About the Survey

The Hot 100 Retailers list is the definitive annual ranking of the fastest-growing retail chains in the United States. Rankings are determined by increases in year-over-year domestic sales between 2013 and 2014. The STORES Hot 100 list was sponsored by Fifth Third Bank, Island Pacific and Magtek.

Kantar Retail ( is the world's leading retail insights and consulting business. The company works with leading retailers and branded manufacturers to transform the purchase behavior of consumers, shoppers and retailers. Kantar Retail has over 400 employees and offices in 15 markets around the globe. The company is headquartered in London and is part of the Kantar Group of WPP.

STORES Media is the publishing group of the National Retail Federation (NRF), the world’s largest retail trade association. STORES Media offerings include STORES magazine (print, digital and mobile versions) and STORES Weekly. STORES products report on the broad spectrum of strategic issues facing senior retail executives, including: retail technology, supply chain and logistics, credit and payment systems, loss prevention, human resources, omnichannel retailing, communications, marketing, merchandising and other vital store operations.


National Retail Federation (NRF)
Kathy Grannis Allen or Treacy Reynolds (855) NRF-PRESS


National Retail Federation (NRF)
Kathy Grannis Allen or Treacy Reynolds (855) NRF-PRESS