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Hot 100 Retailers (2010)

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Rank   Company Headquarters 2009 Sales (000) Y/Y Change 2009 Operating Income (000) Y/Y Change No. of Stores Y/Y Change Comment
1 SYMS Secaucus N.J. $377,309 55.9% $-4,842 N.A. 50 85.2%
2 Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market El Segundo, Calif. $556,000 54.9% $-262,350 N.A. 145 26.1%
3 O'Reilly Automotive Springfield, Mo. $4,847,062 35.5% $537,619 60.2% 3421 4.1%
4 rue21 Warrendale, Pa. $525,600 34.3% $36,931 66.8% 535 19.2%
5 Verizon Wireless Basking Ridge N.J. $8,634,000 28.9% N.A. N.A. 2330 -9.2% 4
6 Amazon.com Seattle $12,828,000 25.4% $709,000 59.3% - N.A. 1
7 Netflix Los Gatos, Calif. $1,670,269 22.4% $191,939 58.0% - N.A.
8 Aeropostale New York $2,141,247 16.4% $382,685 54.1% 890 2.2%
9 The Buckle Kearney, Neb. $898,287 13.4% $199,462 23.0% 401 3.6%
10 Citi Trends Savannah, Ga. $551,869 13.0% $29,374 27.4% 403 12.9%
11 CVS Caremark Woonsocket, R.I. $55,355,000 13.0% $4,159,000 10.8% 7025 1.5% 1
12 Lumber Liquidators Toano, Va. $544,568 12.9% $43,607 17.9% 186 24.0%
13 Dollar General Goodlettsville, Tenn. $11,796,400 12.8% $953,300 64.2% 8828 5.6%
14 Ulta Salon Cosmetics & Fragrance Bolingbrook, Ill. $1,222,771 12.7% $68,153 47.2% 346 11.3%
15 Dollar Tree Stores Chesapeake, Va. $5,231,200 12.6% $320,500 39.7% 3806 6.0%
16 Aldi Batavia Ill. $7,457,350 12.6% N.A. N.A. 1061 6.5% 3
17 Vitamin Shoppe North Bergen, N.J. $674,495 12.1% $41,332 16.0% 438 9.2% 1
18 DSW Columbus, Ohio $1,455,000 12.0% $93,455 118.3% 305 2.3%
19 drugstore.com inc. Bellevue, Wash. $404,575 11.5% $-7,369 N.A. - N.A.
20 J.Crew Group New York $1,539,118 11.3% $211,261 118.5% 321 7.0% 1
21 Ross Stores Pleasanton, Calif. $7,184,213 10.8% $718,529 45.1% 1004 5.1%
22 Jos. A Bank Clothiers Hampstead Md. $770,316 10.7% $61,795 -15.5% 473 2.8% 1
23 Trader Joe's Monrovia Calif. $6,275,418 10.2% N.A. N.A. 340 6.6% 3
24 WinCo Foods Vancouver Wash. $3,912,078 10.0% N.A. N.A. 70 6.1% 3
25 hhgregg Indianapolis $1,534,253 9.9% $68,791 -1.2% 131 19.1%
26 Polo Ralph Lauren New York $2,263,100 9.1% $706,900 18.7% 631 21.3% 4
27 Bed Bath & Beyond Union N.J. $7,828,793 8.6% $980,687 45.5% 1100 6.1% 5
28 Raley's W. Sacramento Calif. $3,532,587 8.4% N.A. N.A. 144 4.3% 3
29 TJX Framingham Mass. $15,845,083 8.4% $1,738,542 44.7% 2154 1.9%
30 PC Richard & Son Brooklyn N.Y. $1,505,000 8.3% N.A. N.A. 58 13.7% 3
31 Chico's Fort Myers Fla. $1,713,150 8.3% N.A. N.A. 1076 -0.4%
32 Save Mart Modesto Calif. $4,993,083 8.2% N.A. N.A. 245 0.0% 3
33 Sony Style New York $3,246,179 7.6% N.A. N.A. 60 0.0% 4
34 Wegman's Rochester, N.Y. $5,150,000 7.3% N.A. N.A. 75 5.6% 3
35 Walgreen Deerfield, Ill. $63,335,000 7.3% $3,247,000 -5.6% 7397 8.2% 1
36 Village Super Market Springfield, N.J. $1,208,097 7.1% N.A. N.A. 26 4.0%
37 Alimentation Couche-Tard Tempe, Ariz. $4,003,642 7.0% $403,380 -0.4% 3828 12.0% 1
38 Dick's Sporting Goods Coraopolis Pa. $4,412,835 6.8% $225,571 642.5% 510 4.7%
39 Brandsmart Hollywood Fla. $885,986 6.8% N.A. N.A. 9 12.5% 3
40 Tractor Supply Co. Brentwood Tenn. $3,206,937 6.6% $184,633 36.2% 930 8.8%
41 Schnucks St. Louis $2,703,472 6.6% N.A. N.A. 119 2.6% 3
42 Bass Pro Shops Springfield Mo. $2,505,755 6.4% N.A. N.A. 57 7.5% 3
43 Best Buy Richfield Minn. $37,314,000 6.4% $2,071,000 17.8% 1192 7.7%
44 Price Chopper Supermkts. Rotterdam N.Y. $3,400,000 6.1% N.A. N.A. 119 1.7% 3
45 V. F. Corp. Greensboro N.C. $1,255,605 6.0% N.A. N.A. 962 10.3% 4,5
46 Family Dollar Matthews N.C. $7,400,606 6.0% $457,269 25.2% 6655 1.3%
47 Forever 21 Los Angeles $1,196,180 6.0% N.A. N.A. 428 0.2% 3
48 Casey's General Stores Ankeny, Iowa $1,445,594 5.8% $180,000 29.3% 1507 2.0% 1
49 Overstock.com Salt Lake City $876,769 5.7% N.A. N.A. - N.A. 1
50 Tire Kingdom Juno Beach, Fla. $792,039 5.5% N.A. N.A. 329 5.8% 3
51 Fareway Stores Boone, Iowa $841,765 5.4% N.A. N.A. 96 2.1% 3
52 Shoe Carnival Evansville, Ind. $682,400 5.4% N.A. N.A. 311 2.3%
53 Advance Auto Parts Roanoke, Va. $5,412,623 5.3% $454,385 9.5% 3394 1.6% 5
54 Hibbett Sports Birmingham, Ala. $593,492 5.2% N.A. N.A. 767 3.0%
55 IKEA North America Conshohocken, Pa. $3,065,408 5.0% N.A. N.A. 36 2.9%
56 Petco San Diego $2,559,587 5.0% N.A. N.A. 1000 2.0% 3
57 PetSmart Phoenix $4,761,039 4.9% $369,079 -0.2% 1086 3.3% 5
58 Foodland Super Market Honolulu $439,918 4.9% N.A. N.A. 31 6.9% 3
59 Kohl's Menomonee Falls, Wis. $17,178,000 4.8% $1,712,000 11.5% 1058 5.4%
60 Kinney Drugs Gouverneur, N.Y. $744,584 4.7% N.A. N.A. 93 0.0% 3
61 Jo-Ann Stores Hudson, Ohio $1,990,700 4.7% N.A. N.A. 755 -2.4%
62 Hobby Lobby Oklahoma City, Okla. $2,004,440 4.7% N.A. N.A. 470 3.1% 3
63 Ahold Carlisle, Pa. $22,825,000 4.6% $1,087,000 16.4% 713 0.3%
64 Marc's Deeper Discount Drug Stores Cleveland Heights Ohio $1,243,362 4.6% N.A. N.A. 60 0.0% 3
65 AutoZone Memphis $6,816,824 4.5% $1,033,746 2.6% 4208 3.3%
66 Gander Mountain St. Paul, Minn. $1,111,736 4.4% N.A. N.A. 119 0.8% 3
67 Harris Teeter Charlotte $3,827,005 4.4% $175,591 -1.2% 189 7.4% 1
68 Cosentino's Kansas City $622,911 4.4% N.A. N.A. 25 4.2% 3
69 Food City/K-VA-T Abingdon Va. $1,625,538 4.4% N.A. N.A. 105 1.9% 3
70 Super Center Concepts Santa Fe Springs, Calif. $812,237 4.3% N.A. N.A. 33 3.1% 3
71 99¢ Only Stores City of Commerce, Calif. $1,314,214 4.1% $93,416 623.4% 275 -1.4%
72 Apple Stores/iTunes Cupertino Calif. $6,574,000 4.1% $1,392,000 4.1% 217 5.9% 4
73 Urban Outfitters Philadelphia $1,509,994 4.0% $338,114 13.6% 198 15.8% 1
74 Weis Markets Sunbury, Pa. $2,516,175 3.9% $96,351 42.6% 189 3.3%
75 Kirkland's Nashville $406,194 3.8% N.A. N.A. 279 -6.7%
76 Bi-Mart Eugene, Ore. $784,065 3.7% N.A. N.A. 72 2.9% 3
77 Alaska Commercial Company Anchorage $1,444,366 3.7% N.A. N.A. 226 2.3% 1
78 USA Drug Little Rock, Ark. $913,883 3.6% N.A. N.A. 163 0.0% 3
79 Big Y Springfield, Mass. $1,408,436 3.6% N.A. N.A. 57 1.8% 3
80 Big 5 Sporting Goods El Segundo Calif. $895,542 3.6% N.A. N.A. 384 0.8%
81 Staples Framingham Mass. $16,343,340 3.5% $774,529 0.6% 1555 2.1% 1
82 Hy-Vee W. Des Moines, Iowa $6,414,790 3.5% N.A. N.A. 228 1.8% 3
83 Dress Barn Suffern, N.Y. $1,494,200 3.5% N.A. N.A. 1559 0.0%
84 Micro Center Hilliard, Ohio $1,193,836 3.5% N.A. N.A. 23 0.0% 3
85 Discount Drug Mart Medina, Ohio $725,681 3.3% N.A. N.A. 69 1.5% 3
86 GNC Pittsburgh $1,162,100 3.3% N.A. N.A. 3741 0.5% 1
87 Cato Charlotte $872,132 3.1% N.A. N.A. 1271 -0.8%
88 Bartell Drug Seattle $397,600 3.0% N.A. N.A. 57 3.6% 3
89 Market Basket Tewksbury, Mass. $2,112,195 3.0% N.A. N.A. 59 -1.7% 3
90 Cabela's Sidney, Neb. $2,447,635 2.8% $92,678 -34.3% 29 3.6% 1,5
91 Newegg.com City of Industry, Calif. $2,132,239 2.7% $44,958 -12.5% - N.A. 3
92 Grocery Outlet Berkeley, Calif. $583,239 2.7% N.A. N.A. 136 0.0% 3
93 Brown Shoe St. Louis $1,968,200 2.7% N.A. N.A. - N.A. 1
94 Wawa Wawa, Pa. $876,898 2.6% N.A. N.A. 571 0.2% 3
95 Certified Grocers Midwest Hodgkins, Ill. $630,171 2.5% N.A. N.A. - N.A. 3
96 Brookshire Tyler, Texas $2,162,725 2.5% N.A. N.A. 155 -0.6% 3
97 Coborn's St. Cloud Minn. $714,979 2.5% N.A. N.A. - N.A. 3
98 Army Air Force Exchange Dallas $8,700,000 2.4% $392,600 -12.7% 181 30.2% 5*
99 Hastings Amarillo Texas $451,492 2.3% $11 23.2% 147 -3.9%
100 Top Markets Williamsville, N.Y. $1,080,817 2.2% N.A. N.A. - N.A. 3

What happens when a recession ends and (seemingly) nobody recovers? Retailers may be discovering the answer to this disturbing question right now.

Last year was tough slogging for merchants and shoppers alike, as the STORES Hot 100 Retailers report reflects. Nevertheless, some retailers managed to generate solid to strong results, particularly those with value propositions that appeal to consumer frugality. In addition, chains with novel or otherwise different concepts were able to attract those shoppers willing to spend. For other merchants, especially those in the apparel business, volume increases were made easier by comparisons with dismal prior-year figures.

A tight economy typically squeezes underperforming retailers harder than their competitors, which leads to consolidation and a surfeit of vacant store locations, which in turn paves the way for expansion opportunities for hot or shrewd retailers — and especially those that are both hot and shrewd.

Chart-topping SYMS is a prime example. Not a “hot” chain in the conventional sense, SYMS pioneered an off-price strategy in menswear when Sy Syms founded the company in 1958. Syms died last fall just after the company teamed with Vornado Realty to buy Filene’s Basement out of bankruptcy. Adding 20 Filene’s Basement locations to SYMS’ network was a marriage of convenience. Vornado was landlord for many of Filene’s Basements’ higher-profile stores and SYMS wasn’t all that familiar with the women’s apparel orientation for which Filene’s Basement is known.

The 2010 edition of the Hot 100 includes several new parameters. For the first time, privately held companies are included among those businesses achieving retail sales of $300 million or more after eliminating non-U.S. revenues, gasoline and other fuel sales and such non-sales revenues as credit card operations and membership fees. And recognizing the fundamental difference in their (mostly) franchise-driven business models, restaurants have been given their own fastest-growing list this year.

The launch of Fresh & Easy – No. 2 on this year’s Hot 100 — was Tesco’s in-your-face North American invasion as it sought to battle Wal-Mart on its home turf. Much has been made of Wal-mart’s adept capture and use of data as it grew into the world’s largest retailer, but Tesco has developed a similar reputation in the U.K. As a result, expectations were high when the first wave of Fresh & Easy stores opened in November 2007, with the chain hoping to open as many as 250 locations within its first year on U.S. soil. In reality it had 145 stores operating at the end of 2009; it added 14 more units through June of this year, but has delayed construction of a distribution center and its entry into northern California, though it continues to acquire potential store sites in the region. The company is reportedly losing nearly $2 million per store, in part because its infrastructure was scaled to operate a lot more than 160 stores.

It’s not that Americans haven’t taken to Fresh & Easy: The British bosses had to tweak the offerings a couple times to better appeal to stateside preferences, but Tesco had the bad timing to launch the venture just as the U.S. economy was slumping and the housing market crashed particularly hard in the states Tesco initially targeted (California, Arizona and Nevada).

The automotive aftermarket was able to profit from consumers’ reluctance to make big-ticket purchases: Generally speaking, maintaining your present car is cheaper than buying a new one. No. 3 O’Reilly Automotive was one of the primary beneficiaries, particularly since 2009 was the first full year operating the stores it gained in the acquisition of CSK Auto. The company ended last year with 20 distribution centers, opened three more in the first half of 2010 and completed the conversion of 140 Murray’s, 72 Checker and 40 Schuck’s stores.

O’Reilly Automotive can boast of 17 consecutive years of same-store sales gains. Addressing prospects for 2010, CEO and co-president Greg Henslee says O’Reilly views “consumer concerns over high unemployment and a challenging macroeconomic environment as signs that our customers will continue to maintain their current vehicles and, therefore, drive demand in our industry.”

rue21 has undergone a remarkable transformation to land in fourth place among the Hot 100 Retailers. Brought out of bankruptcy six years ago by private equity firm Saunders, Karp & Megrue, it has been selling a lot of clothing to teens aspiring to “look 21” and adults who want to dress like they are 21 again.

rue21 boosted its store count by nearly 20 percent last year and plans to add another 100 locations this year (60 are already open) to give the company at least 635 in operation by year’s end. The momentum rue21 built last year has continued into 2010, with sales jumping 28 percent in the quarter ended May 1, gross margin rising by 280 basis points to 37.9 percent and income nearly doubling.

According to Verizon, the majority partner in the Cellco venture with Vodafone, there was nothing extraordinary about its emergence as a Hot 100 Retailer. The revenue jump, the company explained to investors, was “primarily due to an increase in gross customer additions as well as an increase in the number of units sold to existing customers upgrading their wireless devices.” No. 5 Verizon mentioned that the acquisition of Alltel might also have contributed to the increase.

Being a hot retailer — or merely maintaining steady growth — is challenging even in the best of times. In the current economy, taking business from competitors is the only way to do so, says Mary Brett Whitfield, senior vice president of Kantar Retail, which provided the data for this year’s Hot 100 report. In 2010, she says, “Market share is the only game in town.”

The ravages of the recession become evident when analyzing market share shifts in the five primary segments of retailing. Only two segments, food/drug/mass merchant and e-commerce, showed growth, while soft goods and hard goods retailers and restaurants experienced market-share declines. Online retailers showed a 6.3 percent gain in market share, though the overall dollar volume is low and the segment is populated by companies too small to be considered for the Hot 100 retailers. With $12.8 billion in retail sales, Amazon.com dominated the e-commerce segment.

The food/drug/mass merchant grouping, which includes Wal-Mart, Target and Costco, also saw market share increase, primarily through an expansion of general merchandise and non-food offerings among grocers and pharmacy chains. “Most consumers were concentrating their spending on things that were not discretionary, like food and everyday necessities,” Whitfield says, and it follows that stores specializing in hard lines and soft goods featured more merchandise that represented discretionary purchases, “though there has been some pickup of late in areas such as apparel.” Restaurants also fall into the discretionary spending category, Whitfield notes.