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Three Thoughts

Jennifer Marks Editor-In-ChiefJennifer Marks Editor-In-Chief
Each year when our research department completes the Retail Giants ranking, I pull out my calculator and start musing. Here are three things that caught my eye.
     Amazon: The chief beneficiary of show rooming made its debut on HTT's Top 50 ranking in last year's survey at No. 18. Its boffo home textiles sales performance in 2012 - up 28.0% - pushed it up a notch to No. 17. But if Amazon repeats its performance this year (and assuming all others ranked from No. 11 to No. 20 do the same), it will jump to No. 14 in next survey's Retail Giants survey.
     The only other retailer in that group that would move up under the same scenario would be Pottery Barn, hopping from No. 19 to No. 17.
     Kmart: At this point, just those of us with gray hair remember when Kmart was America's largest discount department store, and the only discounter with national reach. The last time Kmart increased its year-over-year home textiles sales was 2000. It's been slowly sliding down the rankings ever since.
     When will it fall out of the Top 10? Assuming parent company chairman/ceo/majority stakeholder Eddie Lampert doesn't shutter any more units (Ha!), the answer is: Longer than you'd think.
     Ross Stores probably won't overtake Kmart for the No. 8 spot until 2015. The following year, Ikea could knock it down to No. 10. Based on velocity of growth, the retailer most like to dislodge Kmart from the elite is Home Goods - and even assuming the TJX division maintains its current pace of double-digit growth, that will take another five or six years.
     JCPenney: Walmart eclipsed JCPenney to become the largest U.S. retailer of home textiles in 2000. Bed Bath & Beyond shoved it down to No. 3 in 2007. Within a couple of years, Target climbed ahead, pushing Penney to No. 4. And last year, the unfortunate consequences of the company's abrupt shift in tactics bled $732 million from its home textiles market share, sending Penney to No. 5 in this year's ranking.
     That $732 million is not far off Kmart's entire home textiles business for the year. It is just $1 million less than Belk, Ashley Furniture, HSN, Hobby Lobby, Lands' End, Dillard's, Century 21, BJ's Wholesale, the Army & Air force Exchange and Bealls did collectively in 2012.
     Want to hear something even more sobering? The last year Penney was at the top of the heap (1999), it generated just shy of $3.2 billion in home textiles sales (in 2012 dollars). It's lost about two-thirds of its market share since then.

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