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Specialty retailers close dept. store gap

Specialty stores are poised to gain equal status with department stores in the home textiles world.

Specialty stores gained a full percentage point — 18 percent of market distribution, compared with 17 percent in '99 — to pull within a percentage point of the department stores' share — 19 percent in 2000, compared with 20 percent in 1999.

Interestingly, the slight shifts in these two distribution channels represent the only changes in percentage of sales by channel among the Top 50 in the eight channels tracked in Home Textiles Today's exclusive annual Retailing Giants survey.

Of the eight distribution channels, five scored strong double-digit sales increases.

In dollar terms, warehouse clubs scored the largest dollar percentage increase among the eight channels, up 97.8 percent with $250 million, compared with $126 million in 1999. In share of distribution, these clubs stayed the same at 1 percent of the home textiles distribution by channel.

Supercenters picked up the second largest percentage gain in dollars with a 21.8 percent increase bringing the group to $1.243 billion in 2000, compared with $1.020 billion in 1999. But as a distribution channel, the supercenters held to 6 percent of the distribution channel breakout in 2000, the same as in 1999.

Specialty stores, with a 17.4 percent dollar gain, moved their share of the Top 50 retailers to $3.372 billion, up from $2.873 billion in '99.

Catalogs, bolstered by strong performances by long-time players Spiegel and Eddie Bauer, were joined by newcomers Brylane Home and Direct Marketing Services Inc., which boosted this segment's sales gains to 16.4 percent. The catalog share of the Top 50 home textiles sales was $2.295 billion, compared with $1.972 billion in '99.

Discount department stores, the largest distribution segment, held on to its 38 percent share of the Top 50 home textiles business, picking up an 11.8 percent dollar gain to $7.234 billion, compared with 1999's sales of $6.473 billion for the group.

Chains, with a 6 percent share of distribution, had a 5.5 percent increase in sales, up to $1.092 billion, compared with 1999's $1.035 billion.

Second in the ranks of distribution of home textiles, but losing ground, is the department store segment. Sales for department stores in the Top 50 increased 3.2 percent to $3.562 billion, maintaining the second place in dollar volume among the eight channels.

At the bottom of the distribution ranks is the PX segment with a less than 1 percent market share and a 0.9 percent increase in dollar sales for 2000 to $77 million.

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