New Retail Ranking: Malls Are Back, Led By Discounters

Image above from a recent Zara post.

The National Retail Federation just released its annual Top 25 ranking measuring the fastest-growing brands, and mall-based stores are blazing back. Discounters and value apparel brands are the biggest winners, including Inditex’ Zara (No. 2), Burlington (No. 3), TJMaxx (No. 5), Ross Stores (No. 6) and H&M (No. 9).

Department stores also made a considerable recovery, led by Dillards (No. 4), Macy’s (No. 11), Nordstrom (No. 14) and Hudson’s Bay (No. 17.)

Harbor Freight Tools, a discount retailer of power tools, generators and the like, ranked first, with sales rising 93% in 2021. But the home and DIY category actually lost some steam. RH, a former high-flyer, comes in at No. 19, with a gain of 32%. When looking at the two-year trend, powered by the epic redecorating efforts sparked by pandemic lockdowns, writes Marcotte, “home décor retailers like, Wayfair, At Home, Williams Sonoma, The Home Depot and Ace Hardware were still on the list.”



The Washington DC-based trade organization computes the rankings with Kantar. This year,  each of the companies in the Top 25 saw sales climb at least 25%, while those that made it into the Top 10 had revenue jump more than 40%.

But because the pandemic created so much retail upheaval, the NRF widened its aperture this year for a two-year look, since so many companies are comparing pre-pandemic 2019 and somewhat normalized 2021 as a more useful metric of growth.

On that basis, online winners blow physical retailers away, with notching a 223% gain over the two years. Boohoo, an online apparel brand, doubled its sales, while Overstock soared 90% and climbed 83%.

On a one-year basis,, which saw sales grow 50%, earning it seventh place, is the only primarily ecommerce brand in the new listing. That’s fueled by evolving regulations about wine and spirits sales.

“The whole thinking about the spirits category has changed,” says David Marcotte, Kantar’s senior vice president, in the report. “The idea of mailing and shipping benefited from the pandemic, but given the legal changes, its growth might be sustainable.”

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