While companies like Burlington and TJX see growth, challenges remain for others

The top soft goods retailers in NRF’s 2022 Top 100 Retailers list

The National Retail Federation’s annual Top 100 Retailers list ranks retailers based on U.S. sales. Walmart remains in the leading spot, followed by Amazon, Costco Wholesale and The Home Depot. This series takes a look at power players in each retail category.

In terms of broad range in 2021, look no further than soft goods. The lower end of the spectrum — Burlington, TJX Companies and others — did “tremendously well,” says David Marcotte, senior vice president at Kantar. “And when you look at numbers and performance, Kohl’s did pretty good, too, despite all of the insanity in terms of people trying to buy them out.” Otherwise, those that have had troubles have continued to have troubles, he said.

A couple in particular stand out: Bed Bath & Beyond and J.C. Penney.

2022 Top 100 Retailers List

NRF's Top 100 Retailers ranks the industry’s largest companies according to sales.

View the complete chart.

“The problem with Bed Bath & Beyond going into 2021 is that they were a retailer that merchandised with product,” he said. “Going into their stores, the product went from floor to ceiling. That was their motif, their value proposition for shoppers: ‘Boom! It’s all right there in front of you.’”

But if that inventory becomes expensive, or it becomes unavailable due to supply chain issues, that value proposition no longer works. “They’re under new management and new strategies, so we’ll see where it goes,” he says — it will be a challenge to rework the product-focused strategy.

As for J.C. Penney, “they’re trying to find something that connects and works more than a week at a time.” The company took big chances with recent management “and I don’t think they’ve ever recovered from that damage,” Marcotte says. “They’re saying, ‘We want our shopper back.’ That’s what they’re trying to do now, and that’s an uphill battle.”

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