• Jennifer Marks

An Evolving List

The top 50 ranking is like a glacier — it grinds along so slowly you can hardly detect the movement, but the behemoth is moving nonetheless.

People in the industry talk a lot about how much volume is concentrated among a few retailers. Here's a powerful illustration of the fact: The four leading retailers collectively own about $11.3 billion in sales — more than double the $4.7 billion share held collectively by the six other largest retailers in the ranking.

JCPenney appears poised to break the $3 billion mark in home textiles sales by the close of this year, assuming domestics sales grow by at least 5 percent.

Also worth noting: The year-over-year gap between JCPenney's sales volume and Wal-Mart's narrowed last year by $52 million. True, Wal-Mart remains ahead by more than $500 million — and it's opening over 100 more stores this year than Penney. But that points to the greater strength of Penney's home textiles comps. Which begs the question: If Wal-Mart had Penney's fairly stagnant store opening pace, could it remain in the lead?

Target is headed toward $3 billion as well, but it probably won't get there until the end of 2007. It will be interesting a year from now to see how all the home initiatives undertaken since January — World Bazaar, Fieldcrest, Isaac Mizrahi, Thomas O'Brien and lifestyle merchandising — affect the velocity of sales.

Keep an eye on Anna's Linens, which is preparing to go public in the coming weeks. Anna's has been leap-frogging its way up the chart since it first appeared three years ago at No. 44. It has now hopped into the Top 20. With another 50 stores coming on line this year, Anna's will come within striking distance of the Top 10. If it keeps up the pace, it could even make it into the golden circle by the end of 2007.

HomeGoods may well be the tortoise to Anna's hare. Although the chain suffered a rather lackluster year in 2004, its home textiles business still sprang ahead by 17 percent. Parent company TJX plans to more aggressively market the nameplate this year. That — combined with 40 store openings and its e-commerce launch last fall — could push it into the Top 20 by the end of this year.

Speaking of e-commerce, it's significant that companies in the direct-to-consumer group posted the greatest gain by channel in this year's survey, up 14.7 percent. Admittedly, the channel still makes up a small segment of the overall industry (10 percent), but if one were able to add in the e-commerce business conducted by the bricks-and-mortar stores it would probably be even heftier.

Now, it's on to back-to-school and the all-important fourth quarter.

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HTT digital edition

See the May 2017 issue of Home & Textiles Today. In this issue, we discuss our annual Market Basket survey, which finds higher prices and more polyester at leading retailers. See details!