Retailers building emotional connect with consumers

RetailME Bureau

The list of the fastest-growing retailers this year reflects consumer preference for fast-fashion, specialty grocery items and apparel. Stores Hot 100 Retailers list, published annually in the August issue of Stores magazine, consists of retail companies that reported the greatest increase in domestic sales between 2011 and 2012. All public and private companies with more than $300 million in sales were eligible for the list, which was compiled by UK-based Kantar Retail.

US-based supermarket chain Bi-Lo topped the list following the acquisition of the remnants of the Winn-Dixie chain in 2011. Indicative of a condensing grocery market and a growth in specialty grocery stores, Sprouts Farmers Market, third, and The Fresh Market, tenth, also appeared in the top 10 list this year. With plans to increase its store footprint in China and the US in the coming years and an imminent e-commerce launch Swedish multinational fast-fashion brand H&M ranked eighth, entering the list for the first time. H&M’s sales at US stores increased 20.7% from 2011, and the number of operating domestic stores increased 15.5% during that time as well. Specialty apparel continues to heat up in the retail industry. With revenue increasing 63.2% from 2011, New York-based Michael Kors ranked second, up one spot from last year. Canada-based self-described yoga-inspired athletic apparel company Lululemon Athletica and American sports clothing and accessories company Under Armour, acquired the fourth and fifth positions, respectively, mostly maintaining their spots in the top 10 from last year.US-based jewellery retailer Helzberg Diamond Shops climbed the Hot 100 list from number 60 last year to nine this year. And Apple Stores/iTunes, fifth, and, seventh, rounded out the top 10 list.

“This year’s Stores Hot 100 Retailers list features a series of retailers selling broad-based solutions that resonate emotionally with shoppers. Either through specialised expertise in stores like Lululemon Athletica and Under Armour or by ease of access to a wide variety of products like Amazon, retailers are going beyond function to a more emotional connection as the key to rapid growth,” observes Bryan Gildenberg, chief knowledge officer at Kantar Retail.