retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Forbes is out with its list of the nation’s ten fastest growing retailers:

• Apple Store
• Amazon.com
• PriceSmart (which operates club stores in the Caribbean and Latin America)
• Urban Outfitters
• Netflix
• Chipotle Mexican Grill
• BJ’s Restaurants/Brewhouses
• Buffalo Wild Wings
• The Buckle (a midwestern clothing chain)
• Texas Roadhouse

Forbes says that the list is based on “sales growth of major retail chains over the past three years using data compiled by the National Retail Federation, Stores Magazine and company annual reports. Companies that derived sales growth primarily from acquisitions, such as grocer A&P with its pickup of Pathmark, were omitted.
KC's View:
So what do these retailers have in common? Interesting, I think, that six of them sell food (though Amazon is hardly a traditional food retailer in the sense of the other five).

I have not patronized all of them, but I am a regular or semi-regular customer of a different six - Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Chipotle, BJ’s, and Buffalo Wild Wings. In each case, I feel good about doing business with them. I never feel demeaned by the transaction, and I never feel that the experience is commoditized (though Buffalo Wild Wings can be hit-or-miss, depending on which unit is being visited). In three cases - Apple, Amazon and Netflix - there is an actual relationship with the company that creates enduring loyalty on my part, even though only one of them (Apple) has a location in which there are actual people with familiar and friendly faces.

These are important distinctions, I think. At least, they are to me. My sense is that a lot of people feel the same way, and retailers looking for some level of significant growth would do well to keep these differential advantages in mind. Because even in a recession, during which the conventional wisdom has been that price means everything, the companies on the list are not necessarily the ones that focus just on price. Value, yes...though not necessarily value as defined by a price tag.