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Name game

Names and titles don't always mean what they used to, especially in the rapidly evolving retail scene. Discounters aren't really discounters anymore — they feature all-the-time-low-pricing on merchandise that is often exclusively theirs and can't be found anywhere else — and with names like Springmaid at Wal-Mart, Martha Stewart at Kmart and Michael Graves at Target, they're taking on some of the attributes of department stores. These days it's the off-pricers, like Stein Mart and TJX, that really discount the goods usually seen in full-price department stores — Ralph Lauren is a case in point.

With that in mind, this year's edition of the Retail Report Card makes a sweeping change in nomenclature and organizes retail formats in a new hierarchy based on pricing realities. In place of the department stores category, you'll find full-price retailers; followed by mid-price retailers, including Sears, Penney and Kohl's. Next are the all-the-time-low-price stores, reflecting what the so-called "discounters" really do, followed by off-price retailers. Noting that mail-order now encompasses a whole lot more than conventional mail, and a lot of business is done on the Internet, that channel is now called direct-to-consumer.

Given their highly defined niches, specialty stores, fabric and decorating chains and warehouse clubs retain their well-known titles.

Sales per square foot

2001 2000
1. Williams-Sonoma $1,037 $1,037
2. Target 313 323
3. Ross Stores 301
4. Kohl's 283 261
5. Sears, Roebuck 282 318
6. Kmart 235 242
7. Value City 233 256
8. Gottschalks 204 196
9. Bed Bath & Beyond 199 196
10. May Dept. Stores 193 205
11. Stein Mart 189 192
12. Ames 185 159
13. Factory 2-U Stores 178
14. Linens 'n Things 152 160
15. Dollar General 142
16. Jo-Ann Stores 99 92

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