Hottest Retail Categories: Food, Fashion And Furnishings

The National Retail Federation has just announced the year’s 100 hottest retailers, and while some are predictable—No. 1 is food giant Albertsons, which has grown via acquisition, for example—the list contains a number of surprises. Clothing companies get plenty of attention: Michael Kors Holdings clocks in at No. 6, Under Armour at No. 7 and Lululemon at No. 11. (The ranking is based on U.S. sales gains between 2012 and 2013, so Lululemon’s woes, which began late in 2013, aren’t reflected.)

Home furnishings came on strong as well, with Wayfair ranking second and Conn’s coming fourth. Amazon lands in ninth place.

The NRF’s STORES Magazine publishes the list each year, based on retailers with more than $300 million in sales. Grocery giant Albertsons registered a 432.7% gain, primarily from acquisitions. Boston-based Wayfair had a gain of 52.5%, while Ascena Retail Group, parent of clothing brands Justice and Dress Barn, grew 49.4%.

The magazine also called out a group for its  “sustained sizzle,” with nine companies landing on the Hot 100 list every year since the ranking began in 2006: Amazon, Ascena Retail Group; O’Reilly Automotive;  Urban Outfitters; J.Crew; Tractor Supply Co.;  Dick’s Sporting Goods; Dollar Tree, and Ross Stores.

The rankings, done in conjunction with Kantar Retail, also include a separate listing of the hottest restaurant companies, led by Ignite Restaurant Group; Wingstop Restaurants; Chipotle Mexican Grill; Jimmy John’s; Jersey Mike’s; Noodles & Company; Firehouse Subs; Buffalo Wild Wings; Chick-fil-A, and Texas Roadhouse.

“Hot retailers find a way to align with a shopper base that might not be very well organized or had not been effectively addressed previously,” says Bryan Gildenberg, chief knowledge officer with Kantar Retail, in the article. “They’ve cleverly carved out a proposition for the consumer. Part of that is being at the right place at the right time with the right products.”

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