The list of the fastest-growing retailers this year tells a story of consumers’ growing affinity for fast-fashion, specialty grocery items, and apparel. STORES Hot 100 Retailers list, published annually in the August issue of STORES magazine, consists of retail companies that reported the greatest increase in domestic sales between 2011 and 2012. All public and private companies with more than $300 million in sales were eligible for the list, which was compiled by Kantar Retail.


With the worst of the recession behind us, retail has dramatically changed the way it responds to customers’ complex needs and wants,” says STORES media editor Susan Reda. “Today’s fastest-growing companies recognize shoppers’ desire for a relevant and personalized shopping experience and deliver products that speak to their unique sensibilities when it comes to lifestyle and fashion.”

Jacksonville-based Bi-Lo tops the list following the acquisition of the remnants of the Winn-Dixie chain in 2011. Indicative of a condensing grocery market and a growth in specialty grocery stores, Sprouts Farmers Market (3) and The Fresh Market (10) also placed in the top 10 this year.


With plans to increase its store footprint in China and the U.S. in the coming years and with a full e-commerce launch imminent, No. 8 H&M joined the Hot 100 list for the first time. Sales at U.S. stores increased 20.7 percent from 2011, and the number of operating domestic stores increased 15.5 percent during that time as well.


Specialty apparel continues to heat up in the retail industry. With revenue increasing 63.2 percent from 2011, Michael Kors comes in at No. 2, up one spot from last year. lululemon athletica (4) and Under Armour (5), also known for their loyal fan bases and unique product offerings, mostly maintained their spots in the top 10 from last year.


Helzberg Diamond Shops climbed the Hot 100 list from No. 60 last year to No. 9 this year.


Apple Stores/iTunes (5) and (7) round out the top 10.


"This year's Hot 100 features a series of retailers selling broad based solutions that resonate emotionally with shoppers," says Kantar retail chief knowledge officer Bryan Gildenberg. "Either through specialized expertise in stores like lululemon and Under Armour or by ease of access to a wide variety of products like Amazon, retailers are going beyond function to a more emotional connection as the key to rapid growth."


10 Companies Demonstrate “Sustained Sizzle”


Smart merchandising, stellar customer service, expansion efforts and a cornering of a niche market have helped 10 retail companies maintain a place on the Hot 100 list each of the past eight years.

Companies that have managed to stay hot include (rank based on average annual growth):

• (7)
•    Ascena Retail Group (70)
•    O’Reilly Automotive (81)
•    Urban Outfitters (28)
•    J.Crew (11)
•    Tractor Supply Co. (46)
•    Dick’s Sporting Goods (32)
•    Dollar Tree (37)
•    Ross Stores (27)
•    PetSmart (41)


List Evaluates Fastest-Growing Restaurants


Separate from the fastest-growing retail companies, the Hot 100 list evaluates the fastest-growing restaurants. The top 10 in order of sales growth are:

•    Jimmy John’s
•    Cheddar’s Casual Cafe
•    Buffalo Wild Wings
•    Chipotle Mexican Grill
•    Panda Restaurant Group (Panda Express)
•    Noodles & Company
•    Zaxby’s Franchising
•    Wingstop Restaurants
•    BJ’s Restaurants
•    Chick-fil-A

Finance, Growth, News, Outside Insights, Restaurant Operations, Chick-fil-A, Chipotle, Jimmy John's, Noodles & Co., Panda Express, Wingstop, Zaxby's