Iowa State retail specialist assesses the Stores Magazine "Hot 100 Retailers" list

AMES, Iowa -- A leading national retail authority released its "Hot 100 Retailers" list last week. The list, published in the August issue of the National Retail Federation's Stores Magazine, ranks retailers by domestic sales growth in 2011 vs. 2010.

Ron Prescott

Ron Prescott

Ron Prescott, retail and small business specialist with Iowa State University's Extension and Outreach Community and Economic Development and department of economics, is not surprised by the retailer that tops the list in terms of total retail sales in 2011.

"It is of no surprise that Wal-Mart once again topped the list with $316 billion in U.S. retail sales, which represents 69.6 percent of their worldwide sales," Prescott said. "This also represents 7.6 percent of all retail sales in the U.S. and provides a substantial gap between the second place position held by Kroger, at $85 billion in total sales."

Prescott sees Americans adjusting their diets to include more natural and organic foods according to the new list.

"Number one on the list is Sprouts Farmers Market, headquartered in Phoenix, Ariz., which had sales growth of 71.9 percent. It opened over 50 markets in 2011," Prescott said. "Sprouts was not alone among the more natural and organic food stores on the list. They included Fresh and Easy Neighborhood Market (11), The Fresh Market (31), Whole Foods Market (38) & Trader Joe’s (80)."

Prescott also made these observations:

  • The total retail sales by the top 100 retailers is $1.7 trillion, or 41 percent of all retail sales in the United States. The remaining 2.9 million (est.) retail companies divide up the balance of $2.4 trillion in 2011 retail sales.
  • The top 15 retail companies listed below also share a current characteristic of not being attached to a shopping mall complex, with most operating within stand-alone properties. Food chains are also well represented with four stores on this top 15 listing, including Kroger, Safeway, SUPERVALU and Publix. 
Top 15 Retail Sales 2011
2011 Retail Sales Concentration Graphic
  • Sorting the listing by sales growth in 2011 versus 2010 provides a list of "movers and shakers" in the retail world, according to Prescott. He says Amazon comes in first place with a whopping 42.5 percent growth and tops the list below. "In Amazon’s case, as well as all retailers, growth is great, but net income is better," he said. "According to the SEC’s filed annual report, Amazon’s net income fell to 2008 levels even though 2011 had more than twice the sales as in 2008."
2011 Sales Growth Ranking
  • Cell phone products and services provided the growth to three of the four top growing retailers in 2011: Verizon, Apple and AT&T.  Prescott found it interesting that Chick-fil-A made the top 10 listing for sales growth in 2011 while being closed for business on Sundays. Total Sales for 7-Eleven represents only 16.5 percent of their worldwide sales for 2011.
  • "Sorting the list by store openings in 2011 indicates that 7-Eleven and Dollar General were busy with store grand openings," he said. "The listing of store openings is interesting, as it indicates the retailers that are expanding and may indicate companies interested in opening stores in Iowa's communities."
2011 Store Openings
  • In contrast to the above listing, A&P closed 18 percent of its stores in 2011. "In 2012 we will continue to see store closings and mergers -- although at a slower pace from the past three years -- as retail owners continue to adjust to the new market conditions," Prescott said.
  • Hy-Vee, headquartered in West Des Moines, made the listing at number 54 with over $7 billion in sales and 4.2 percent sales growth for 2011. "Not bad for a partnership and a new store that was leased in Beaconsfield, Iowa (pop. 15) a few weeks before the stock market crash of October 1929," Prescott said.