Signet Moves Up NRF’s List of ‘Top 100’ Retailers
Plus, a look at what shoppers want from retailers and why a remodel may not be in the cards.
The jewelry giant was No. 78 last year.
The list, compiled by market research firm Kantar Group, ranks the largest retail companies in the United States, based on 2021 annual retail sales.
The NRF says it uses “a variety of estimation techniques” to calculate its figures, so the sales figures on its list may differ from the companies’ official public filing reports.
This is the case with Signet, which reported total sales of $7.8 billion last year.
The NRF, however, has Signet’s total retail sales at $6.95 billion in 2021.
Signet’s U.S. sales, according to its calculations, totaled $6.14 billion in 2021, a 31 percent increase year-over-year.
The company’s strong performance can be attributed in part to several trends, said David Marcotte, senior vice president for Kantar.
Shoppers had more disposable income, due to lockdowns and an inability to travel, and were able to afford luxury items like fine jewelry.
Signet was the only specialty jeweler on the list, with the top spots taken by big box stores and retail titan Amazon.
In the No.1 spot on NRF’s list, once again, was Walmart, with U.S. sales of $459.51 billion, a 7 percent year-over-year increase.
Amazon took the No. 2 spot for the second year in a row, posting U.S. sales of $217.79, a 13 percent year-over-year increase.
The No. 3 spot went to Costco, with U.S. sales of $140.41 billion, a 16 percent year-over-year increase.
Analysts had predicted problems for retail in 2021 as COVID-19 continued to take its toll, but the year wasn’t all that gloomy.
“Overwhelmingly, retail came out ahead for a variety of reasons,” said David Marcotte, senior vice president for Kantar. “But it’s undeniable that everybody, except for those in apparel, did much better than anyone expected.”
The strong turnout had a lot to do with changing attitudes in 2021 compared with the lockdown period of 2020, said Marcotte.
“Almost any trip was driven by need, but not necessarily a desperation need. It was a need for entertainment, a need to get out, a need to find something. And in both going online and into stores, finding things was, I wouldn’t say an adventure, but a challenge.”
Shoppers weren’t as interested in promotions or merchandising, he said, with retailers backing off ad dollars and promotion.
“What retailers were dealing with was a shopper who was trying to find what they needed and was willing to overlook all other flaws,” Marcotte said.
Retailers like TJ Maxx, Ross, and Burlington, known for their wide selection rather than their merchandising or curated experience, saw strong growth in 2021.
Today, however, shoppers’ mindsets have shifted, regaining an interest in promotions and loyalty points.
“We’re seeing a surge in frequent shopper programs and electronic coupons,” he said. “And we’re seeing the introduction of retail media to engage shoppers trying to squeeze every last dollar.”
In March, Signet said it had been testing out a new loyalty program, Vault Rewards, at select Jared stores and could roll the program out to all its banners.
Looking to the current year, a labor shortage has been affecting retail, with most retailers operating with a 20 percent reduction in workers, said NRF.
Issues affecting the supply chain and trucking only add to the problem.
“That’s been a re-education for most retailers,” said Marcotte. “For the past 40 years, the story has been, ‘I can get by with less labor, and in an ideal situation, I can pay them less.” And that’s not true.”
From Amazon to Starbucks, workers have been unionizing across the country, advocating for a living wage and better working conditions.
The labor issue also spells trouble for experiential retailing, said Marcotte, which takes more than just merchandising.
Significant shortages in both labor and materials may mean stores looking for a remodel, or a whole new location, are out of luck.
“I’m starting to refer to 2023 as, ‘the year you come as you are,’” said Marcotte.
“The labor picture will probably change slowly, but not quickly. The commercial real estate picture will also change slowly and it’s not going to get cheaper. On a global basis, it’s going to be a challenge for retailers to really change their stores’ physical footprint.”
Retailers looking for success in 2022 will have to “re-engage with shoppers in the same way they were with them in 2019.”
“We all wanted to go back to normal,” said Marcotte. “We’re back to normal. We have to be competitive, we have to invest, we have to create. But we really, really have to get involved with frequent shopper programs, electronic coupons and digital tools. The retailers that do that are going to do well.”
Read the full “Top 100” list on the NRF’s website.
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