Internet Retailer 2016 Top 500 Guide booked declines in 2015 store sales." /> Online sales are the one growth area for many retail chains |


Online sales are the one growth area for many retail chains

April 13, 2016 03:56 PM

Retail chains lost ground in the battle for customers last year, according to the just-released Internet Retailer 2016 Top 500 Guide.

While the web was a bright spot for retail chains—online sales for the 39 publicly trade retail chains ranked in the Guide were up 10.4% while comparable-store sales growth was only 1.4%--the online growth lagged market growth of 13.5% by 3 percentage points. The 156 total chains in the guide grew online sales by 11.6% last year.

For all retailers ranked in the Top 500, total 2015 sales grew by $39.31 billion. Web-only retailers accounted for 50.3% of that growth and retail chains were a distant second at 28.6%. Consumer brand manufacturers (14.3%) and catalogers (6.9%) followed.

Overall, online-only retailers in the Top 500 grew by 16.9% in 2015, to $136.84 billion in sales. Retail chains trailed web-only retailers at $107.85 billion (up 11.6%) in web sales, consumer brand manufacturers reached $56.33 billion (up 11.1%) and catalogers totaled $30.45 billion (up 9.7%).

Some of the biggest chain store operators, including Target Corp., J.C. Penney Co. Inc. and Home Depot Inc., that put the web at the forefront of their business strategies last year and invested heavily in using their stores to their advantage in fulfilling web purchases or serving as pickup points, grew 20% or more last year.

This growth occurred while store sales were stagnant or falling for many of the biggest chains, making e-commerce a larger portion of total sales for some merchants, including:

  • Wal-Mart Stores Inc., No. 4 in the Top 500, which derived 2.8% of its total sales from the web in 2015, up from 2.5% in 2014.
  • Macy’s Inc. (No. 6), which generated 22.9% of sales from e-commerce, up from 19.2%.
  • Best Buy Co. Inc. (No. 12), which got 10.1% of its sales from the web versus 8.8% in 2014.

In fact, 18 of the 39 largest publicly traded retail chains ranked in the Top 500 Guide experienced declines in store sales in 2015—the biggest drops coming from Sears Holdings Corp. (No. 14), Office Depot Inc. (No. 9) and Staples Inc. (No. 5)—according to an analysis of public filings that factored out web sales figures from total sales in 2015 and 2014.

Web sales didn’t fare so well for those companies either. Online sales for Sears were down 12.5% to an Internet Retailer-estimated $3.5 billion. Office Depot grew online sales 2.0%, to an Internet Retailer-estimated $4.39 billion but Staples’ web sales declined 1.8% to $10.70 billion.

The latest edition of the Top 500 Guide, now in its 13th year, offers more insights into 2015 e-commerce results and is available in multiple formats.

Included in the print, digital and database versions of the Top 500 Guide are the following:

  • Rankings and data-filled profiles of the largest 500 online retailers in North America, including operational data on conversion rates, average order values, e-commerce executive contact names and technology vendors used.
  • For the first time ever, an Internet Retailer Performance Score, which rates all merchants by the success of their online strategy in comparison to their peers and the market as a whole. 
  • Three-year web sales figures (dollar amounts included in the database version only).
  • In-depth analysis of the key trends in the market, and strategic success stories of some of the web’s most innovative retailers.
  • Feature story on the growing influence of online marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay, Newegg, Rakuten, and others.
  • Multiple charts and graphs, including a list of the fastest-growing e-retailers, a comparison of web sales versus store sales for some of the largest chains, and rankings by product category.

Purchasing Options: 

2016 Top 500 Print - $149
2016 Top 500 Digital Edition - $149
2016 Top 500 Bundle (Print & Digital) - $249
2016 Top 500 Online Database - $359




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