Retail Channel Monthly $ Update – July Final & August Advance

Commodities prices rose in August and the cumulative effect of inflation on consumer spending is still being felt. The rate of sales increases is still slower than the decrease in inflation in a number of channels, which causes a drop in the amount of product sold. A recovery may have started but there is still a long road ahead, so we’ll continue to track the retail market with data from two reports provided by the Census Bureau and factor in the CPI from US BLS.

The Census Bureau Reports are the Monthly and the Advance Retail Sales Reports. Both are derived from sales data gathered from retailers across the U.S. and are published monthly at the same time. The Advance Report has a smaller sample size so it can be published quickly – about 2 weeks after month end. The Monthly Final Report includes data from all respondents, so it takes longer to compile the data – about 6 weeks. Although the sample size for the Advance report is smaller, the results over the years have proven it to be statistically accurate with the final monthly reports. The biggest difference is that the full sample in the Final report allows us to “drill” a little deeper into the retail channels.

We will begin with the Final Report for July and then go to the Advance Report for August. Our focus is comparing to last year but also 2021 and 2019. We’ll show both actual and the “real” change in $ as we factor inflation into the data.

Both reports include the following:

  • Total Retail, Restaurants, Auto, Gas Stations and Relevant Retail (removing Restaurants, Auto and Gas)
  • Individual Channel Data – This will be more detailed in the “Final” reports, and we’ll focus on Pet Relevant Channels.

The data will be presented in detailed charts to facilitate visual comparison between groups/channels. The charts will show 11 separate measurements. To save space they will be displayed in a stacked bar format for the channel charts.

  • Current Month change – % & $ vs previous month
  • Current Month change – % & $ vs same month in 2022 and 2021.
    • Current Month Real change for 2023 vs 2022 and vs 2021 – % factoring in inflation
  • Current Ytd change – % & $ for 2023 vs 2022, 2021 and 2019.
    • Current Ytd Real change % for 2023 vs 2022, 2021 and 2019
  • Monthly & Ytd $ & CPIs for 22>23 and 21>23 which are targeted by channel will also be shown. (CPI Details are at the end of the report)

First, the July Final. 3 were down from June. However, all but Gas Stations were up vs 22, 21 & 19. When you consider inflation, the total number of drops vs 22 & 21 (10) was the same as June. Gas Stations are still really down vs 2019. The biggest change may be that Relevant Retail is again “really” up monthly vs 22. (All $ are Actual, Not Seasonally Adjusted)

The July Final is -$3.8B less than the Advance. Specifically, Restaurants: -$0.7B; Auto: -$0.7B; Gas Stations: -$0.2B; Relevant Retail: -$2.2B. Sales were up from June only in Restaurants & Gas Stations but actual sales for all but Gas Stations were positive in all measurements vs 22, 21 & 19. Strong deflation caused Gas Stations sales to again drop monthly & YTD vs 22. Vs 22 & 21, there were 10 “real” sales drops, 8 vs 21. Restaurants have the most growth and are the only group with all positives. Monthly real sales for Relevant Retail vs 22 are up but have been down in 15 of the last 17 months. Other real measurements vs 22 & 21 are negative. They are the top performer vs 2019 but only 48% of the growth is real.

Now, let’s see how some Key Pet Relevant channels did in July in the Stacked Bar Graph Format

Overall– 5 were up from June, but vs 22, 8 were up vs July and 10 YTD. 6 were “really” down monthly & Ytd. Vs 2021, 10 had increases but only 2 monthly & 3 Ytd were real. Vs 2019, Off/Gift/Souv & Disc Dept Strs were really down.

  • Building Material Stores – The pandemic focus on home has produced sales growth of 34.6% since 2019. Prices for the Bldg/Matl group have inflated 19.0% since 2021 which is having an impact. HomeCtr/Hdwe stores are down for the month & Ytd vs 22 but up vs 21 &19. Farm Stores are up in all measurements. However, both have all negative real numbers vs 2022 & 2021. Importantly, only 19.9% of their 19>23 lift was real. It was only this high because most of the lift came prior to the inflation wave. Avg 19>23 Growth: HomeCtr/Hdwe: 7.1%, Real: 1.1%; Farm: 11.3%, Real: 5.1%
  • Food & Drug – Both channels are truly essential. Except for the pandemic food binge buying, they tend to have smaller fluctuations in $. They have been very different in inflation and the situation just flipped as the Grocery rate is now 12% lower than Drug/Med products. Drug Stores are positive in all but real sales vs July 22 and 73% of their growth since 2019 is real. While the $ are up for Supermarkets their 2023 real sales are down vs 22 & 21 and just slightly positive vs 2019. Only 7% is real growth. Avg 19>23 Growth: Supermarkets: +6.3%, Real: +0.5%; Drug Stores: +5.4%, Real: +4.0%.
  • Sporting Goods Stores – They also benefited from the pandemic in that consumers turned to self-entertainment, especially sports & outdoor activities. Sales are down from June but are actually & really up vs 2022 and 2019. Vs 2021 the only increase is in actual $ vs July. Prices are still deflating -0.5%, a big change from +5.4% in 21>22 and +6.5% in 20>21. The result is that 59% of their 43.1% lift since 2019 is real. Their Avg 19>23 Growth Rate is: +9.4%; Real: +5.8%.
  • Gen Mdse Stores – Only $ stores were down vs June but actual sales vs 22, 21 & 19 were up for all but Disc Dept Stores vs July 22 & 21. In real sales vs 22 & 21 $/Value Stores had the only positives – vs July 22 & 21. Disc Dept Stores are the worst performer and are the only real negative vs 2019, -1.1%. The other channels average 35% In real growth. Avg 19>23 Growth: SupCtr/Club: 6.2%, Real: 2.3%; $/Value Strs: +6.7%, Real: +2.7%; Disc. Dept.: +2.4%, Real: -0.3%
  • Office, Gift & Souvenir Stores – Actual sales are up 4.6% from June but down from July 22. They were up in all other measurements vs 22, 21 & 19. Their real sales numbers are all negative including -7.3% Ytd vs 2019. Their recovery started late and their slow progress appears to have stalled in Jun>Jul. Avg Growth Rate: +0.8%, Real: -1.9%
  • Internet/Mail Order – Sales are up from June and above $100B again at $103.4B – another record for the month. All measurements are positive, but their growth is only 61% of their average since 2019. However, 79% of their 96% growth since 2019 is real. Avg Growth: +18.4%, Real: +15.2%. As expected, they are still by far the growth leaders since 2019.
  • A/O Miscellaneous – Pet Stores are 22>24% of total $. In May 2020 they began their recovery which reached a record level of $100B for the first time in 2021. In 2022 their sales dipped in January, July, Sept>Nov, rose in December, fell in Jan>Feb 23, turned up in Mar>May, then fell in June & July. However, all measurements vs 22, 21 & 19 are positive. They are still the % increase leader vs 2021 (barely) and 72% of their 55.8% growth since 2019 is real. Average 19>23 Growth: +11.7%, Real: +8.8%. They are still 2nd in growth since 2019 to the internet. Pet Stores are surely contributing.

Inflation remains an important factor in Retail. In actual $, 8 channels reported increases in sales vs 2022 and 10 vs 2021. When you factor in inflation, the number with any “real” growth drops to 5 vs 2022 & 2 vs 2021. Inflation has impacted sales increases. Vs 2022 July was a little better than June, but the lift was still only 50% of Jan/Feb. The impact is very visible at the retail channel level. Inflation grew in August. Let’s look at the impact in the August Advance Retail $ales.

Since 2019, we have seen the 2 biggest monthly drops in history but a lot of positives in the recovery. Total Retail sales reached $700B in a month for the 1st time and broke the $7T barrier in 2021. Relevant Retail was also strong as annual sales reached $4T in 2021 and all big groups set annual $ales records. In 2022 radical inflation was a big factor. First, this reduces the amount of product sold but not $ spent. Total Retail hit $8T and all groups again set new annual records in 2022. In 2023, sales got on an up/down rollercoaster. In July only 2 groups were up. In August, all but Restaurants were up. Except for Gas Stations, all actual sales are positive vs 22, 21 & 19. There is also some more good news. The groups have 20 “real” sales measurements vs 22 & 21. 13 are now positive. Relevant Retail’s real monthly sales vs 22 has been up for 2 straight months. Note: The lift vs 22 is up from July for Relevant & Total Retail but still far below Jan & Feb levels

Overall – Inflation Reality – Auto & Gas prices are still down vs 22. For Total & Relevant Retail, the rate was again below the sales lift. For Restaurants, inflation remains high, +6.5% but they are still the only group really positive vs 22 & 21. The biggest news is that monthly real sales for Relative Retail vs last year are positive again. That’s 3 of the last 4 months but only 3 of the last 18. Also, their Ytd Real sales are still down vs 2022 & 2021. They still have a ways to go.

Total Retail – Since June 2020, every month but April 23 has set a monthly sales record. December 22 $ were $748.9B, a new all-time record. Sales have been on a rollercoaster. They grew in May, fell in June & grew in July>Aug. Inflation is  only 1% but sales growth is still low. Sales are up 2.9% vs last year. That’s only 37% of their average 19>23 growth. Monthly real sales vs 21 are now positive but Ytd is still down and only 34% of the 19>23 growth is real. Inflation in Total Retail has radically slowed vs 2022 but we still see its cumulative impact. Avg 2019>23 Growth: +7.8%, Real: +2.9%.

Restaurants – They were hit hard by the pandemic and didn’t begin recovery until March 2021. However, they have had strong growth since then, setting an all-time monthly record of $91B in December and exceeding $1T in 2022 for the 1st time. They have the biggest increases vs 22, 21 & 19 and all real sales are positive. Inflation slowed to 6.5% from 7.1% last month but is still +14.9% vs 21 and +21.7% vs 19. 38.4% of their 40.6% growth since 19 is real but they remain 2nd in performance behind Relevant Retail. Recovery started late but inflation started early. Avg 2019>23 Growth: +8.9%, Real: +3.7%. They just account for 13.1% of Total Retail $, but their performance improves the overall retail numbers.

Auto (Motor Vehicle & Parts Dealers) – This group actively worked to overcome the stay-at-home attitude with great deals and a lot of advertising. They finished 2020 up 1% vs 2019 and hit a record $1.48T in 2021 but much of it was due to skyrocketing inflation. In 2022 sales got on a rollercoaster. Inflation started to drop mid-year, but it caused 4 down months in actual sales which are the only reported sales negatives by any big group in 2021>2022. This is bad but their real 2022 sales numbers were much worse, down -8.2% vs 2021 and -8.9% vs 2019. 2023 started off a little better in Jan>Feb, got worse in Mar>Apr, grew in May, fell in Jun>Jul, then grew in August. Only Ytd real sales vs 21 are negative. Prices vs 22 are -1.9% monthly & -1.4% Ytd. Only 5% of 19>23 growth is real. Avg 2019>23 Growth: +6.6%, Real: +0.4%.

Gas Stations – Gas Stations were also hit hard. If you stay home, you drive less and need less gas. This group started recovery in March 2021 and inflation began. Sales got on a rollercoaster in 2022 but reached a record $583B. Inflation started to slow in August and prices slightly deflated in Dec & Feb, strongly dropped in Mar>Jul to -20.2%. In August they turned up to -3.7%. However, they are still +21.5% vs 21. Deflation is a big factor in the monthly & Ytd sales drops vs 22. Real Ytd sales vs 22 are up slightly but still down vs 21 & 19.  Avg 2019>23 Growth: +6.3%, Real: -1.3%. The numbers show the cumulative impact of inflation and demonstrate how strong deflation can be both a positive and a negative.

Relevant Retail – Less Auto, Gas and Restaurants – They account for 60+% of Total Retail $ in a variety of channels, so they took many different paths through the pandemic. However, their only down month was April 2020, and they led the way in Total Retail’s recovery. Sales got on a roller coaster in 2022 but all months in 2022 set new records with December reaching a new all-time high, $481B, and an annual record of $4.81T. In 2023, Jan & Feb had normal drops then grew in March, starting another roller coaster. Sales fell in Jun>Jul but turned up in August. All actual sales are up vs 22, 21 & 19. Real sales are only down Ytd vs 22 & 21. Monthly Real sales vs last year are again positive. That’s 3 of the last 4 months, but also only 3 of the last 18. 48% of their 19>23 $ales growth is real – #1 in performance. Avg 2019>23 Growth is: +8.3%, Real: +4.2%. This big group is where America shops. The fact that real sales stayed positive gives us hope.

Inflation is still relatively low but the cumulative impact is still there. Sales increases are still low, but the fact that 65% of all real sales numbers vs 22 & 21 are positive is a good sign. Restaurants are still doing well, and Auto is improving. Gas Stations saw the negative impact of strong deflation with an ongoing drop in actual sales. Now prices have turned up. As always, our biggest concern is Relevant Retail. Their situation has definitely improved. Ytd real sales vs 22 & 21 are still negative, which clearly shows the impact of cumulative inflation. However, monthly real sales vs 22 have now been positive in 3 of the last 4 months. This is not the end of the crisis, but a slow turnaround appears to be continuing.

Here’s a more detailed look at August by Key Channels in the Stacked Bar Graph Format

  • Relevant Retail: Avg Growth Rate: +8.3%, Real: +4.2%. 10 channels were up from July but only 5 were up vs 22 & 8 vs 21. Only 5 had a “real” increase vs 22 & 7 vs 21. The negative impact of inflation appears to be slowing sales increases.
  • All Dept Stores – This group was struggling before the pandemic hit them hard. They began recovery in March 2020. Their Actual $ are up from July but down for all comparisons but Ytd vs 21 & 19. Their real sales are down in all measurements, even vs 2019. Avg 2019>23 Growth: +0.1%, Real: -2.6%.
  • Club/SuprCtr/$ – They fueled a big part of the overall recovery because they focus on value which has broad consumer appeal. $ales are up vs July and in all other measurements. Their real sales are down in all measurements but Ytd vs 21 & 19. Only 34% of their 27.4% 19>23 lift is real – the impact of inflation. Avg Growth: +6.2%, Real: +2.3%.
  • Grocery- These stores depend on frequent purchases, so except for the binge buying in 2020, their changes are usually less radical. $ are down from July but up in all measurements vs 22, 21 & 19. However, inflation hit them hard. Real sales are down for all but Ytd vs 2019 and only 5.6% of the growth since 2019 is real. Avg Growth: +6.2%, Real: +0.4%.
  • Health/Drug Stores – Many stores in this group are essential, but consumers visit far less frequently than Grocery stores. Sales are up from July and positive in all other measurements, both actual and real vs 22, 21 & 19. Their inflation rate has been relatively low so 73% of their 24.4% growth from 2019 is real. Avg 2019>23 Growth: +5.6%, Real: +4.2%.
  • Clothing and Accessories – Clothes initially mattered less when you stayed home. That changed in March 21 with strong growth through 2022. Actual $ales are up from July and vs 22, 21 & 19. Their real sales are only down for Ytd vs 22. Another positive is that 62% of their 2019>23 growth is real. Avg 2019>23 Growth: +3.7%, Real:+2.4%
  • Home Furnishings – In mid-2020 consumers’ focus turned to their homes and furniture became a priority. Prices are now deflating but they were very high in 2022. Sales are up from July but negative in all other measurements but actual Ytd vs 2019. Their real sales are even down vs 2019. Avg 2019>23 Growth: +3.4%, Real: -0.6%.
  • Electronic & Appliances – This channel has many problems. Sales fell in Apr>May of 2020 and didn’t reach 2019 levels until March 2021. $ales are up from July but down in all measurements but Ytd vs 19. However, consistent deflation has caused real sales to be up in all measurements. Avg 2019>23 Growth: +0.4%, Real: +2.4%.
  • Building Material, Farm & Garden & Hardware –They truly benefited from the consumers’ focus on home. In 2022 the lift slowed as inflation grew to double digits. Inflation is still high at 7.4%. Sales are down from July and they are again all negative vs 2022. They still have the highest Inflation of any channel so real sales are negative in all but Ytd vs 2019. Also, just 20% of their sales growth since 2019 is real. Avg 2019>23 Growth is: +7.7%, Real: +1.7%.
  • Sporting Goods, Hobby and Book Stores – Consumers turned their attention to recreation and Sporting Goods stores sales took off. Book & Hobby Stores recovered more slowly. Actual $ales are down from July but positive for all but vs Aug 22. Real sales are only down vs Aug 22 and Ytd vs 21. Prices deflated again and their inflation rate has been lower than most groups so 65.7% of their 29.7% growth since 2019 is real. Avg 2019>23 Growth: +6.7%, Real: +4.6%.
  • All Miscellaneous Stores – Pet Stores have been a key part of the strong and growing recovery of this group. They finished 2020 at +0.9% but sales took off in March 21 and have continued to grow. Sales are up vs July and positive in all but vs August 22. Real sales are only down vs August & Ytd 22. They are still 2nd to NonStore in increases vs 21 & 19. 66% of their 42.2% 19>23 growth and even 48% of their 21>23 growth is real. Their Avg 19>23 Growth is: 9.2%, Real: 6.3%.
  • NonStore Retailers – 90% of their volume comes from Internet/Mail Order/TV. The pandemic accelerated online spending. They ended 2020 +21.4%. The growth continued in 2021 as sales exceeded $100B for the 1st time and they broke the $1 Trillion barrier. Their growth slowed significantly in 2022 and now 2023. $ales are up from July and all other measurements, both actual and real, are positive. 78% of their 87.5% growth since 2019 is real. Their Avg Growth: +17.0%, Real: +13.9%.

Note: Almost without exception, online sales by brick ‘n mortar retailers are recorded with their regular store sales.

Recap – The Retail recovery from the pandemic was largely driven by Relevant Retail and by the end of 2021 it had become very widespread. In 2022, there was a new challenge, the worst inflation in 40 years. Despite the recent uptick, inflation has slowed considerably from its peak in June 2022, which should help the Retail Situation. Sales were up from July for 4 big groups and 10 smaller channels. Inflation is slowing in many channels and even deflating in a few. However, some channels like Gas Stations, Grocery and Bldg Material stores still have high cumulative inflation rates so they are still struggling. Only a few channels are doing well. The new problem is that the sales increase rate vs 2022 for many channels has slowed and is even below the lower inflation rate. Real monthly sales for Relevant Retail have been positive vs 22 for 3 of the last 4 months but are still negative for 6 of 11 channels. The turnaround for Relevant retail is not widespread. It is primarily being driven by NonStore with a little help from Health Care. Overall, August was a little better than July, but we still have a long way to go for a full recovery from the inflation tsunami.

Finally, here are the details and updated inflation rates for the CPIs used to calculate the impact of inflation on retail groups and channels. This includes special aggregate CPIs created with the instruction and guidance of personnel from the US BLS. I also researched data from the last Economic Census to review the share of sales by product category for the various channels to help in selecting what expenditures to include in specific aggregates. Of course, none of these specially created aggregates are 100% accurate but they are much closer than the overall CPI or available aggregates. The data also includes the CPI changes from 2021 to 2023 to show cumulative inflation.

Monthly 22>23 CPI changes of 0.2% or more are highlighted. (Green = lower; Pink = higher)

I’m sure that this list raises some questions. Here are some answers to some of the more obvious ones.

  1. Why is the group for Non-store different from the Internet?
    1. Non-store is not all internet. It also includes Fuel Oil Dealers, the non-motor fuel Energy Commodity.
  2. Why is there no Food at home included in Non-store or Internet?
    1. Online Grocery purchasing is becoming popular but almost all is from companies whose major business is brick ‘n mortar. These online sales are recorded under their primary channel.
  3. 6 Channels have the same CPI aggregate but represent a variety of business types.
    1. They also have a wide range of product types. Rather than try to build aggregates of a multitude of small expenditure categories, it seemed better to eliminate the biggest, influential groups that they don’t sell. This method is not perfect, but it is certainly closer than any existing aggregate.
  4. Why are Grocery and Supermarkets only tied to the Grocery CPI?
    1. According to the Economic Census, 76% of their sales comes from Grocery products. Grocery Products are the driver. The balance of their sales comes from a collection of a multitude of categories.
  5. What about Drug/Health Stores only being tied to Medical Commodities.
    1. An answer similar to the one for Grocery/Supermarkets. However, in this case Medical Commodities account for over 80% of these stores’ total sales.
  6. Why do SuperCtrs/Clubs and $ Stores have the same CPI?
    1. While the Big Stores sell much more fresh groceries, Groceries account for ¼ of $ Store sales. Both Channels generally offer most of the same product categories, but the actual product mix is different.

Petflation 2023 – August Update: Drops 24% to +6.6% vs 2022

Inflation is no longer a headline, but it is still news. The huge YOY increases in the monthly Consumer Price Index peaked in June 2022 at 9.1% then began to slow until turning up in July 2023. August prices grew 0.4% from July and the CPI was +3.7% vs 2022, up from +3.2% last month – 2 straight months of increases. However, Grocery inflation continues to drop. After 12 straight months of double-digit YOY monthly increases, grocery inflation is down to +3.0%, 6 consecutive months below 10%. As we have learned, even minor price changes can affect consumer pet spending, especially in the discretionary pet segments, so we will continue to publish monthly reports to track petflation as it evolves in the market.

Total Petflation was +4.1% in December 2021 while the overall CPI was +7.0%. The gap narrowed as Petflation accelerated and reached 96.7% of the national rate in June 2022. National inflation has slowed considerably since June 2022, but Petflation generally increased until June 2023. It passed the National CPI in July 2022 and at 6.6% in August it is still 1.8 times the national rate of 3.7%. We will look deeper into the numbers. This and future reports will include:

  • A rolling 24 month tracking of the CPI for all pet segments and the national CPI. The base number will be pre-pandemic December 2019 in this and future reports, which will facilitate comparisons.
  • Monthly comparisons of 23 vs 22 which will include Pet Segments and relevant Human spending categories. Plus
    1. CPI change from the previous month.
    2. Inflation changes for recent years (21>22, 20>21, 19>20, 18>19)
    3. Total Inflation for the current month in 2023 vs 2019 and now vs 2021 to see the full inflation surge.
    4. Average annual Year Over Year inflation rate from 2019 to 2023
  • YTD comparisons
    1. YTD numbers for the monthly comparisons #2>4 above

In our first graph we will track the monthly change in prices for the 24 months from August 2021 to August 2023. We will use December 2019 as a base number so we can track the progress from pre-pandemic times through an eventual recovery. Inflation is a complex issue. This chart is designed to give you a visual image of the flow of pricing. You can see the similarities and differences in patterns between segments and compare them to the overall U.S. CPI. The current numbers plus yearend and those from 12 and 24 months earlier are included. This will give you some key waypoints. In August, Pet prices were down from last month overall and in all segments but Non-Vet Services.

In August 2021, the CPI was +6.5% and Pet prices were +2.8% from December 2019. Like the U.S. CPI, prices in the Services segments generally inflated after mid-2020, while Product prices generally deflated until late 2021. Then Petflation took off. Food prices consistently increased but the other segments had mixed patterns until July 2022, when all increased. In Aug>Oct Petflation accelerated. In Nov>Dec, Services & Food prices continued to grow while Vet & Supplies prices stabilized. In Jan>Apr, prices grew every month except for 1 dip by Supplies. In May Products prices grew while Services slowed. In June/July this pattern was reversed. In August all but Services fell. Petflation has been above the CPI since November 22.

  • U.S. CPI – The inflation rate was below 2% through 2020. It turned up in January 2021 and continued to grow until flattening out in Jul>Dec 2022. Prices turned up again in Jan>Aug but 35% of the overall 19.5% increase in the 44 months since December 2019 happened in the 6 months from January>June 2022 – 14% of the time.
  • Pet Food – Prices stayed generally below Dec 2019 levels from Apr 20 > Sep 21 when they turned up. There was a sharp lift in Dec 21, and it continued until the Jun>Aug 23 dip. 93% of the 22.7% increase has occurred since 22.
  • Pet Supplies – Supplies prices were high in December 2019 due to the added tariffs. They then had a “deflated” roller coaster ride until mid-2021 when they returned to December 2019 prices and essentially stayed there until 2022. They turned up in January and hit an all-time high, beating the 2009 record. They plateaued from Feb> May, turned up in June, flattened in July, then turned up in Aug>Oct setting a new record. Prices stabilized in Nov>Dec but turned up in Jan>Feb 23, a new record. They fell in March, set a record in May, then fell in Jun>Aug.
  • Pet Services– Normally inflation is 2+%. Perhaps due to closures, prices increased at a lower rate in 2020. In 2021 consumer demand increased but there were fewer outlets. Inflation grew in 2021 with the biggest lift in Jan>Apr. Inflation was stronger in 2022 but it got on a rollercoaster in Mar>June. It turned up again July 22>Mar 23 but the increase slowed to +0.1% in April. Prices fell -0.3% in May then turned up again in Jun>Aug.
  • Veterinary – Inflation has been pretty consistent in Veterinary. Prices turned up in March 2020 and grew through 2021. A pricing surge began in December 2021 which put them above the overall CPI. In May 2022 prices fell and stabilized in June causing them to fall below the National CPI. However, prices turned up again and despite some dips they have stayed above the CPI since July 2022. In 2023 prices grew through May, stabilized, then fell in August.
  • Total Pet – The blending of patterns made Total Pet appear calm. In December 2021 the pricing surge began. In Mar>June 2022 the segments had ups & downs, but Petflation grew again from Jul>Nov. It slowed in December, turned up Jan>May 23, then fell in Jun>Aug. Except for 5 individual monthly dips, prices in all segments increased monthly Jan>Jun 23. In Jul>Aug there 5 more dips but Petflation has stayed above the CPI since November 2022.

Next, we’ll turn our attention to the Year Over Year inflation rate change for August and compare it to last month, last year and to previous years. We will also show total inflation from 21>23 & 19>23. Petflation was well below double digits at 6.6% in August but is still 1.8 times the National rate. The chart will allow you to compare the inflation rates of 22>23 to 21>22 and other years but also see how much of the total inflation since 2019 came from the current pricing surge. Again, we’ve included some human categories to put the pet numbers into perspective.

Overall, Prices were +0.4% vs July and were up 3.7% vs August 2022. The Grocery increase is down again, to +3.0% from +3.6%, but still impacts consumers. 4 of 9 categories had decreased prices from last month, compared to 3 in July, 5 in June, 3 in May and 1 in April. All of the 4 decreases were from the Pet Industry. Only Pet Services had an increase. The national YOY monthly inflation rate for August is up from July but is still much lower than the 21>22 rate. All but 2 categories – Non-Vet Services and Haircuts have a similar yearly pattern. For Non-Vet Pet Services, the 22>23 inflation rate is not just higher than the 21>22 rate. It is the highest rate in any year since 2019. In our 2021>2023 measurement you also can see that over 65% of the cumulative inflation since 2019 occurred from 21>23 for all segments but Pet Services, Medical Services, Haircuts/Personal Services and the U.S. CPI. We should note that these individual segments are all service expenditures. This demonstrates the strong influence of all Services expenditures on the National CPI. Pet Products are unique. The 21>23 inflation surge provided over 96% of their overall inflation since 2019. This happened because Pet Products prices in 2021 were just starting to recover from a deflationary period.

  • U.S. CPI– Prices are +0.4% from July. The YOY increase rose to +3.7% from 3.2%. It peaked at +9.1% back in June 2022. The targeted inflation rate is <2% so we are still 85% higher than the target. 2 lifts in a row after 12 straight declines is not good news. It’s good that the current inflation rate is below 21>22 but the 21>23 rate is still 12.2%, 62% of total inflation since 2019. How many households “broke even” by increasing their income by 12% in 2 years?
  • Pet Food– Prices are -0.1% vs July and +8.7% vs August 2022. They are also 2.9 times the Food at Home inflation rate – not good news! The YOY increase of 8.7% is being measured against a time when prices were 13.0% above the 2019 level, but that increase is still 2.2 times the pre-pandemic 3.9% increase from 2018 to 2019. The 2021>2023 inflation surge actually generated 100.4% of the total 22.8% inflation since 2019.
  • Food at Home – Prices are up +0.1% from July. The monthly YOY increase is 3.0%, down from 3.6% in July and considerably lower than Jul>Sep 2022 when it exceeded 13%. The 25.9% Inflation for this category since 2019 is 32% more than the national CPI and remains 2nd to Veterinary. 65% of the inflation since 2019 occurred from 2021>2023. The pattern mirrors the national CPI, but we should note that Grocery prices began inflating in 2020>2021 then the rate accelerated. It appears that the pandemic supply chain issues in Food which contributed to higher prices started early and foreshadowed problems in other categories and the overall CPI tsunami.
  • Pets & Supplies– Prices plummeted -2.6% from July. This produced deflation of -0.6% vs August 2022. They still have the lowest increase since 2019. As we noted, prices were deflated for much of 2021. However, even with recent price drops the 2021>2023 inflation surge accounted for 81% of the total price increase since 2019. They reached an all-time high in October 2022 then prices deflated. 3 straight months of increases pushed them to a new record high in February. Prices fell in March, bounced back in Apr>May to a new record high then fell in June>August.
  • Veterinary Services – Prices are down -1.2% from July. They are +8.4% from 2022 and fell back to 2nd place behind Food (+8.7%) in the Pet Industry. However, they are still the leader in the increase since 2019 with 27.7% compared to Food at home at 25.9%. For Veterinary Services, relatively high annual inflation is the norm. The rate did increase during the current surge so 70% of the 4 years’ worth of inflation occurred in the 2 years from 2021>2023.
  • Medical Services – Prices turned sharply up at the start of the pandemic but then inflation slowed and fell to a low rate in 20>21. Prices grew 2% from July and are -2.1% vs 2022. Prices have now deflated for 4 straight months. Medical Services are not a big part of the current surge as only 34% of the 2019>23 increase happened from 21>23.
  • Pet Services – Inflation slowed in 2020 but began to grow in 2021. August 23 prices were +0.9% from July and +7.2% vs 2022, which is up from 6.3% in July but much lower than 8.0% in March. Initially their inflation was tied to the current surge, but it may be becoming the norm as only 58% of the total since 2019 occurred from 21>23.
  • Haircuts/Other Personal Services – Prices are +0.4% from July and +5.1% from 2022, the 2nd highest rate since 2019. However, inflation has been rather consistent so just 45% of the inflation from 19>23 happened from 21>23.
  • Total Pet– Petflation is now 35% lower than the 21>22 rate, but 1.8 times the National CPI. For August, +6.6% is the 3rd highest rate since 1997 (2022: 10.1%; 2008: 9.3%). Vs July, prices fell for all but Services so Total Pet was -0.9%. A Jul>Aug decrease has happened in 13 of the last 24 years so it was not a surprise. Food & Veterinary are still the Petflation leaders, but all segments have an influence in the overall numbers. Pet Food has been immune to inflation as Pet Parents are used to paying a lot, but inflation can reduce purchase frequency in the other segments.

Now, let’s look at the YTD numbers

The increase from 2022 to 2023 is the biggest for 4 of 9 categories – All Pet. The 22>23 rate for Haircuts is equal to 21>22. However, the Total CPI, Pet Supplies, Medical Services and Food at Home are significantly down from 21>22. The average annual increase since 2019 is 4.4% or more for all but Medical Services (2.9%) and Pet Supplies (2.6%).

  • U.S. CPI – The current increase is down 46% from 21>22 and only 2.3% more than the average increase from 2019>2023, but it’s double the average annual increase from 2018>2021. 69% of the 19.0% inflation since 2019 occurred from 2021>23. Inflation is a big problem that started recently.
  • Pet Food – Strong inflation continues with the highest 22>23 & 21>23 rates on the chart. Deflation in the 1st half of 2021 kept YTD prices low then prices surged in 2022. 95.6% of the inflation since 2019 occurred from 2021>23.
  • Food at Home – The 2023 YTD inflation rate has slowed but still beat the U.S. CPI by 49%. You can see the impact of supply chain issues on the Grocery category as 73% of the inflation since 2019 occurred from 2021>23.
  • Pets & Pet Supplies – The inflation rate is down to 4.3% as prices fell again in August. Prices deflated significantly in both 2020 & 2021 which helped to create a very unique situation. Prices are up 10.8% from 2019 but 109% of this increase happened from 2021>23. Prices are up 11.8% from their 2021 “bottom”.
  • Veterinary Services – They are still #1 in inflation since 2019 but they are tied for the 2nd highest rate since 2021. At +6.4%, they have the highest average annual inflation rate since 2019. Except for a sight slowing in 2020, inflation has consistently increased since 2019. Regardless of the situation, strong Inflation is the norm in Veterinary Services.
  • Medical Services – Prices went up significantly at the beginning of the pandemic, but inflation slowed in 2021. In 2023 prices have been deflating and are now at 0.2% YTD, which is 99% below the pre-pandemic 2018>19 rate.
  • Pet Services – May 22 set a record for the biggest year over year monthly increase in history. Prices fell in June but began to grow again in July, reaching record highs in Sep>Apr 23. The January 2023 increase of 8.4% set a new record. YTD August grew a little from 6.9% to 7.0%. Interestingly, although the rates are not as high, they have the exact same annual inflation pattern as Veterinary. The Services segments in the Pet Industry are definitely unique.
  • Haircuts & Personal Services – The services segments, essential & non-essential, were hit hardest by the pandemic. After a small decrease in March 22, prices turned up again. Since 2021 inflation has been a consistent 5+%, 90% higher than 18>19. Consumers are paying 21% more than in 2019, which usually reduces the purchase frequency.
  • Total Pet – There were two different patterns. After 2019, Prices in the Services segments continued to increase, and the rate grew as we moved into 2021. Pet products – Food and Supplies, took a different path. They deflated in 2020 and didn’t return to 2019 levels until mid-year 2021. Food prices began a slow increase, but Supplies remained stable until near yearend. In 2022, Food and Supplies prices turned sharply up. Food prices continued to climb until Jun>Aug 23. Supplies prices stabilized Apr>May, grew Jun>Oct, fell in Nov, rose in Dec>Feb, fell in Mar, rose in Apr>May then fell in Jun>Aug. The Services segments have also had ups & downs but have generally inflated. The net is a YTD Petflation rate vs 2022 of 9.5%, 2.1 times the National rate. In May 22 it was 5.8% below the CPI.

Petflation is slowing, but still strong. Petflation dropped from 8.7% in July to 6.6% in August. This is well below the record 12.0% set in November, but still the 3rd highest rate for the month. More bad news is that 9 of the last 13 months have been over 10% and the current rate is still 4.1 times more than the 1.6% average rate from 2010>2021. It’s also 1.8 times the national rate. There is no doubt that the current pricing tsunami is a significant event in the history of the Pet Industry, but will it affect Pet Parents’ spending. In our demographic analysis of the annual Consumer Expenditure Survey which is conducted by the US BLS with help from the Census Bureau we have seen that Pet spending continues to move to higher income groups. However, the impact of inflation varies by segment. Supplies is the most affected as since 2009 many categories have become commoditized which makes them more price sensitive. Super Premium Food has become widespread because the perceived value has grown. Higher prices generally just push people to value shop. Veterinary prices have strongly inflated for years, resulting in a decrease in visit frequency. Spending in the Services segment is the most driven by higher incomes, so inflation is less impactful. This spending behavior of Pet Parents suggests that we should look a little deeper. Inflation is not just a singular event. It is cumulative. Total Pet Prices are up 6.6% from 2022 but they are up 17.4% from 2021 and 21.8% from 2019. That is a huge increase in a very short period. It puts tremendous monetary pressure on Pet Parents to prioritize their expenditures. We know that the needs of their pet children are always a high priority but let’s hope for a little relief – stabilized prices and even deflation. This is not likely in the Service segments, but it may be starting in Products. The Pet Food inflation rate is dropping, and Pet Supplies prices are even deflating. It’s just a start. Let’s hope that it continues. We’ll see what happens.

2022 Top 100 U.S. Retailers – Sales: $2.85 Trillion, Up 6.8% 165,205 Stores with Pet Products……plus the Internet!

The U.S. Retail market reached $8.07 Trillion in 2022 from all channels – Auto Dealers, Supermarkets, Restaurants, Online retailers and even Pet Stores. The $705B, +9.6% lift was down significantly from the pandemic recovery of +$1.14T, +18.4% in 2021. However, the Total Retail market is now $1.9T, 30.8% ahead of 2019. That’s a strong annual growth rate of +9.4%. (Data courtesy of the Census Bureau’s monthly retail trade report.)

In this report we will focus on the top 100 Retailers in the U.S. Market. The base data on the Top 100 comes from Kantar Research and was published by the National Retail Federation (NRF). The historical data for some companies that weren’t in the Top 100 all years from 2019>2022 was gathered from other reliable sources. In 2020, Restaurants were removed from the list and only Convenience stores sales for Gas Stations were included. I adjusted the 2019 list to reflect this change. This change means that the Top 100 now only includes Relevant Retail companies. The Top 100 account for 35.2% of the total market. This share peaked at 39.0% during the 2020 pandemic and has slowly declined since then. However, the Top 100 are still the “Retail Elite”. The vast majority of the group also stock and sell a lot of Pet Products so their progress is critically important to the Pet Industry. Let’s get started in our analysis. The report does contain a lot of data, but we’ll break it up into smaller pieces to make it more digestible.

We will begin our report with an overview chart of the 2019>2022 annual sales history for major segments of the Retail Marketplace. The U.S. Retail market has strongly recovered from the 2020 pandemic trauma and the resurgence has become widespread across most channels. Our regular retail sales reports have shown that different defined retail channels often took a different path from 2019 to 2021. In the Spring of 2021 and throughout 2022 the retail market faced a new challenge – strong inflation. The YOY price increases were the largest in decades, even reaching double digits near the end of 2021. The high rate didn’t start to slow until the Fall of 2022. The Top 100 analysis allows us to see if the company revenue size was a factor in their overall pandemic/price journey from 2019>2022. The following chart shows the annual sales and market share as well as the changes in both for large retail subgroups that are based upon the amount of their annual revenue. Note: In comments we’ll show Avg Growth Rates – Actual & Real (Inflation Related)

  • The Total Retail Market grew $705B, +9.6% in 2022. That is less than the $1.14T, +18.4% in 2020. However, the growth rate since 2019 is 9.4%, which is still double the rate of recent years: 2019, 3.6%; 2018, 4.9%; 2017, 4.3%. Factoring in inflation, Real 19>22 growth was +3.4% compared to 18>19: +3.2%; 17>18: +3.0%; 16>17: +5.7%
  • The “Non-Relevant” Retail Group (Restaurants, Auto Dlrs, Gas Stations) was hit hardest by the pandemic as sales fell -9.7% in 2020. However, they had a strong recovery as 20>22 sales grew $932B, producing an average 19>22 growth rate of 8.8%. However, high inflation was a factor for all groups. Gas Stations led the way as 19>22 prices were up +50.2%.
  • Relevant Retail was the hero of the pandemic as they kept Total Retail positive in 2020. Their sales surged in the 2021 recovery then the increase slowed to +8.0% in 2022. They were still up $365B producing an average growth rate since 2019 of +9.75%. Their Real growth rate (considering inflation) was +5.75%. However, their share of Total Retail has fallen 3.5% after peaking in 2020. The story is a bit more complex. Let’s drill deeper into this group.
  • The Top 100 Retailers make up 57.5% of Relevant Retail and 35.2% of Total Retail. They have shown consistent growth since 2019 but their market share has fallen since peaking in 2020 for Relevant Retail and 2019 for Total Retail. Their avg growth since 2019 is +7.1%, but Real Growth using the latest Top 100 CPI data is +3.6% – 51%.
  • The biggest subgroup in $ales in the Top 100 is the Top 10 which accounts for 59% of the Top 100’s revenue, up from 55% in 2019. This group has been unchanged since 2015 and consists of Amazon, plus truly essential brick ‘n mortar retailers. Their biggest sales surge occurred in 2020 which was their peak in Retail market share. Their average growth rate since 2019 is +9.5%. The group is unchanged, so we know their Real growth was +5.7% – 60%.
  • The Retailers ranked from #11 to #100 change slightly every year. Their sales in 2022 ranged from $3.7B to $76B and they accounted for 41% of the Top 100’s revenue. They have an unusual sales pattern in that their $46B decrease in 2020 is the only negative sales on the chart outside of the big drop by Rest/Auto/Gas. They did have a strong 10.7% increase in 2021 but that fell to 6.1% in 2022. They have also lost market share in Total & Relevant Retail every year since 2019 but are still a big part of U.S. Retail. Avg 19>22 Growth: +3.9%; Real: 1.0% – only 26%.
  • The Relevant Retailers outside of the Top 100 don’t get a lot of “press” but maybe they should. They currently account for 42% of Relevant Retail $ and 26% of Total Retail. They had the biggest percentage increase of any Relevant Retail subgroup in all measurements since 2019. Their avg. increase since 2019 is +13.8%. Real: +9.8%, the best numbers of any group on the chart. While this performance is amazing, perhaps the most important fact is that they delivered 62% of Relevant Retail’s sales increase in 2020 and even 56% of the lift from 2019>2022.

There is no doubt that the big retailers are critical to the success of the U.S. Retail Market. However, there are sometimes “hidden heroes” that should be noted.

The Top 100 outperformed Total Retail in 2020 but not in 2021 or 2022. In fact, the sales growth since 2019 trails Total Retail, Relevant Retail and even Rest/Auto/Gas. It still generates 35.2% of Total U.S. Retail $ so it is still very important. We also should remember that the Top 100 is really a contest with a changing list of winners. Companies drop out and new ones are added. This can be the result of mergers, acquisitions, surging or slumping sales or even a corporate restructuring. In 2022, Smart & Final was acquired by Chedraui and Price Choppers merged with Tops. 4 dropped off:

  • Bed, Bath & Beyond (Home Gds) • Restoration Hdwr (Home Gds)   • Save Mart (Supmkt)   • Urban Outfitters (Appar)

On the plus side, 4 new companies were added.

  • Amway (Home Gds) • Raley’s Supermarkets (+Bashas’)   • Neiman Marcus (Dept Str)  • Schnucks (Supmkt)

I think that we now have a good overview of U.S. Retail and the Top 100 so let’s ask and answer a very relevant question. How many Top 100 companies are buying and selling Pet Products? This will reinforce that Pets have become an integral part of the American Household and how fierce that the competition for the Pet Parents’ $ has become.

  • We should note that the data in the chart only reflects the performance of the companies in the 2022 list since 2019 and is not being compared to the Top 100 list of companies from prior years
  • 87 are selling some Pet Products in stores and/or online. 2 of the companies added pet products to their offerings for the 1st time in 2022. Plus, 87 is 7 more companies than the 1st “official” all Relevant Retail Top 100 list in 2020.
    • Their Total Retail Sales of all products is $2.74 Trillion which is…
      • 96.4% of the total business for the Top 100
      • 55.4% of Relevant Retail
      • 34.0% of the Total Retail market
    • 74 Cos., with $2.58T in sales sell pet products off the retail shelf in 165,205 stores – 12,000 more than 2020.
      • 1 company on the current list added pet products to their shelves in 2022.
      • As you can see by the growth in both sales and store count since 2019, “in store” is still the best way to sell pet.
    • Online only is another story and the story gets complicated.
      • Amazon includes Whole Foods, which has stores so the Amazon $ are in the “Pet in Store” numbers.
      • 1 Retailer in the 2022 list added pet products to their offerings. This group had decreased sales and closed stores in 2020. Fortunately, 21 & 22 brought a rebound in both areas, but they still have the lowest 19>22 increase in $.
    • Some non-pet specialty retailers like Lulumon and Signet have had extraordinarily strong post pandemic growth. However, the growth in the non-pet group has generally slowed in 2022. They have also closed 5% of their stores, which is now thankfully on hold. Perhaps, more of them will see Pet as a new growth opportunity.

The pandemic caused our Pets to become an even more important part of our households. They are truly family. Pet products have long been an integral part of the strongest retailers and are now even more widespread across the entire U.S. marketplace. Of the Top 100, 165,205 stores carry at least some pet items at retail. However, there are thousands of additional “pet” outlets including 15,000 Grocery Stores, 10,000 Pet Stores, 16,000 Vet Clinics, 6,000 Pet Services businesses and more. Pet Products are on the shelf in over 215,000 U.S. brick ‘n mortar stores… plus the internet. Pet Products have become part of the new “normal” for the majority of U.S. Retailers.

Before we analyze the whole Top 100 list in greater detail let’s take a quick look at the Top 10 retailers in the U.S.

Except for changes in rank, this group has been incredibly stable. The list has been the same since 2013, with one slight qualification. In 2015 Albertsons purchased Safeway. The new Albertsons/Safeway group replaced the stand-alone Safeway company in the list. There is one change to the chart. We have added average annual 19>22 growth rates – both Actual & Real (Inflation was factored in using specifically targeted CPIs) Now let’s get into the numbers.

  • Their Total Retail Sales were $1.67 Trillion which is:
    • 58.8% of Top 100 $ales, about equal to the 2020 peak (58.9%) but up considerably from 2019 (55.0%).
    • 33.8% of Relevant Retail, down from 35.5% in 2020 but about the same as 2019 (34.0%).
    • 20.7% of Total U.S. Retail $, down from 23.0% in 2020 but exactly the same as 2019 (20.7%).
  • In ranking, Kroger & Home Depot swapped places. Walgreens fell from 6th to 8th, so Target and CVS moved up.
  • Sales vs 21 & 19 are up for all but Walgreens. The biggest growth vs 21 came from Costco but Amazon is still the leader vs 19. In average growth, 5 have rates over 10%. The group averages +9.5% with +5.7% (60%) being real.
  • Store count stabilized and turned up 0.3% in 22 but is still down vs 19 for 5 companies and -0.1% for the group.

Now we’ll look at the detailed list of the top 100. It is sorted by channel groups with subtotals in key columns. For some groups there will be 2 subtotals. The subtotal in Blue compares the data history for just the 2022 list. The Black subtotal compares this year’s totals to those from previous year’s lists. Note: I used the same CPI rate for both Blue & Black Real averages because there was little difference in group share from 2019 to 2022.  There is not a lot of highlighting, but:

  • Pet Columns ’22 & ‘21 – a “1” with an orange highlight indicates that products are only sold online.
  • Rank Columns – 2022 changes in rank from the 2021 list are highlighted as follows:
    • Up 4-5 spots = Lt Blue
    • Up 6 or more = Green
    • Down 4-5 Spots = Yellow
    • Down 6 or more = Pink

Let’s get started. Remember, online $ are included in the sales of all companies.

Note:(*) in the 2019 columns of some companies means the 2019 base was estimated from other sources.


  • Alcohol Retailers first made the list in 2020 as consumers started dining at home. The behavior is accelerating.
  • Apparel – They were hit hard by the pandemic, had a strong recovery in 2021, then the increase slowed in 2022. In 2022 sales decreased for companies focused on clothing while it increased for specialty and accessory stores. The average increase for the 22 group was Actual: +5.5%; Real: +4.8% (87%). Their performance differed from that of the category because the 2022 group had fewer companies than 2021 but more than 2019.
  • Auto – Growth slowed a little in 2022 but the only negative for this group is that Advance Auto’s average Real Sales growth is down -1.4% from 2019. Group Avg Growth: +9.8%; Real: +3.6%.
  • Book Stores – Barnes & Noble has had slow steady growth since 2019 and low inflation so 52% is real.
  • Commissary/Exchanges – They have been on hold since 2019. Sales grew a little in 22 but real sales growth is -5.7%.
  • Convenience Stores – Sales are up in 22 but most of the growth is due to 7-Eleven’s acquisition of Speedway. The 22 group has 8.0% average growth but only 24% is real. However, that’s much better than -4.9% for the category.
  • The decline in Department Stores was accelerated by the pandemic. Sales in the category grew in 22 because of the addition of Neiman Marcus. Neiman Marcus’ sales are up slightly from 2019 but Dillard’s has the only significant actual and real growth since 19. Both the 22 group and the category are both actually and really down vs 2019. J.C. Penny, a hallmark in the department store channel, has by far the worst performance.
  • Drug Stores – All but Walgreen’s increased sales in 2022 but the store closures continued. Vs 2019 only Walgreen’s and Good Neighbor Pharmacy have reduced sales but all have fewer stores. The average growth rate since 2019 is low at +2.7% but inflation is low so real growth is +2.1% (78%)

  • Electronics/Entertainment – Sales Growth slowed in 22 and even fell for 3 companies. Store closures continued for electronics retailers.
    • Amazon Retail growth slowed in 22 to only 36% of their average growth since 2019, but 85% is Real.
    • Qurate was down for the year and the only company down vs 2019. Their avg real sales growth from 19 is -6.5%.
    • 2 Electronics stores are down vs 2021 but all are up vs 2019. They continue to close stores. However, strong deflation has even pushed real sales significantly above actual.
    • 22 group avg growth: +12.0%;Real: +12.5%. This is much better than the category because 22 is a smaller group.
  • Farm – Tractor Supply growth slowed but is still +11.4%. Avg Growth: +19.1%; Real: +13.8% (72%). Plus, more stores.
  • Hobby & Crafts– Hobby Lobby is the best performer, but both companies are up in all measurements. Avg Group Growth: 5.9%; Real: +5.4%. 92% is real.
  • Home Improvement/Hardware – Growth slowed in 2022 but the only negatives on the chart come from True Value closing a few stores in 21 and the -1.6% real sales avg for Menards. Consumers are still focused on their homes.
    • Harbor Freight is still growing fast. They earned a spot in the Top 100 in 2021.
    • Vs 2021 & 2019 sales were up for all across the board with the biggest $ lifts coming from the 3 biggest guys.
    • It is also a very healthy sign when 6 of 7 companies continue to add more stores.
    • 22 Group Avg Growth: +11.5%;Real: +6.3% (55%). The category is slightly better because the group # is up by 1.
  • Jewelry – Signet switched from closing to opening stores. Strong growth continues. Avg: 21.2%; Real: 18.7% (88%).
  • Mass Merchants have 3 of the 7 largest volume retailers in America – Wal-Mart, Costco and Target. However, the value and selection offered by the whole group has increased its importance to consumers even more due to the pandemic.
    • In 2022 Wal-Mart $ were up 8.7%, better than 6.9% in 2021 and above their average increase in sales: +7.7%. Their business is driven by SuperCenters. Groceries drove up inflation so their real sales avg increase was 3.7%, only 48%. They did stop closing discount department stores in 2022 but their store count is still -0.5% from 2019.
    • Costco’s 2022 $ increase was +16.9%, up from +15.8% in 2021 and 23% more than their 13.7% average. Average real growth was 9.7% (71%). They also continued to open new stores, +5.9% vs 2019.
    • Target posted a 6th consecutive sales increase in 2022, +2.8%. However, this was down a lot from +13.2% in 2021 and their 11.7% average. Their real avg growth rate is 7.7%, 66%. Their store count is up 4.3% from 2019 as they are opening more supercenters. However, they are also adding more fresh groceries to their discount stores.
    • Meijer’s $ales were +5.6% from 21, up from 2.3% last year but below their avg of 6.1%. Their avg real growth is 2.1%, only 34%. Coincidentally, their avg growth rate from 2019 now exactly matches their 6.1% growth in stores.
    • BJ’s is now the growth leader, +22.8% vs 21 and +55.3% vs 2019. However, we should note that Costco ranks 2nd in both comparisons. BJ’s also has 8.7% more stores than in 2019. Costco is +6.1%. BJ Avg growth: +15.8%; Real: +11.8%, 75%. Club stores have moved to the forefront.

  • Office Supply Stores – This channel continues its consistent decline as Consumers maintain their move to online ordering of these products. The only positive on the chart is that Staples sales were up +0.6% from 2021. The group’s average sales growth since 2019 is -3.8%; Real: -10.4%. Store count is down even more, -17.3% from 2019.
  • Pet Stores growth in 2022 was +7.3%, down significantly from +22.3% last year but they are up +45.5% from 2019. Most of the growth in all measurements is coming from online sales.
    • Chewy and PetSmart numbers are reported individually as they are now separate companies.
    • With the strong consumer movement to online purchasing, Chewy is still the big story in this channel. They have the most sales. Their 21>22 increase was +13.6%, down from 24.4% in 21, but 76% of the Pet Store group’s 2022 $ increase. Their 64.5% sales increase vs 2019 is also nearly double that of the retail outlets. Avg Growth rate: +18.0%; Real: +14.9%. 83% of their big increase is real.
    • PetSmart’s 21>22 growth was only +2.2%, 90% less than the +23.1% in 21. Sales are still up +32.5% from 2019 and they continue to expand their retail footprint with 3.4% more stores than in 2019. Their average growth rate is +9.8%. Real growth is +6.7%, 68%. This is not as good as Chewy’s, but still very good.
    • Petco’s growth since 2019, +35.8% is slightly ahead of PetSmart. It also slowed markedly in 2022 to +4.1%, from +17.6% in 21. Avg growth: +10.7%; Real: +7.6%, 71%. The biggest difference between the 2 is that Petco has cut back on their retail stores, even in 2022. Their store count is now down -7.7% from 2019.
  • Small Format Value Stores – These stores offer value and convenience, but there are 2 types – Big Lots & $ Stores
    • Group sales grew +7.4%, up from +2.0% in 21. Avg 19>22 Growth: +8.2%; Real: +4.1%, 50%.
    • Dollar General & Dollar Tree were responsible for almost all of the group’s growth in both $ and stores. Dollar General was the leader in both areas. Avg Growth: +10.9%; Real: +6.9%, 63%. Dollar Tree also looked pretty good with 6.8% more stores and avg growth of +6.3%. However, their Real growth was +2.3%, only 37%.
    • Big Lots’ $ fell -11.1% from 21. Their store count is down -3.1% from 19. Avg $ Growth 19>22: +0.9%; Real: -3.1%
  • Sporting Goods – Sales vs 21: +4.7%, down from +13.6% in 21. All but Academy were up vs 21 but all are up vs 19. The store count has also grown despite slight drops by Dick’s and Bass Pro. Avg $ Growth: +9.1%; Real: +4.7%, 52%.
    • Camping World has the best performance vs 21 & 19 in both $ales and store growth.
    • Dick’s had the biggest actual $ increase from 19>22 despite closing 1.9% of their stores since 2019.
    • Bass Pro has the worst performance. They closed 3.1% of their stores in 20&21. Avg Growth: +2.5%; Real: -1.9%.
  • Supermarkets – As usual there was some turmoil. Because of a merger & acquisition 2 companies were replaced. 1 other dropped out and 2 new were added. Ave Growth: +7.0%; Real: 0.9%, only 13%. Store count -0.7% from 2019.
    • All were up vs 2021 in $ and only 2 were down vs 2019
    • 7 companies cut back on stores in 2022 and 8 have fewer stores than in 2019.
    • The category avgs and store count situation are better than for 2022 group because the group is bigger in 22.
    • With $540B in sales from 17K stores, all carrying Pet Products, this group is essential both to the Retail Market and the Pet Industry.

Wrapping it up!

This report is focused on 2022 but we can also see the still evolving impact of the pandemic. In 2020 many non-essential retailers were hit with restrictions and closures. On the plus side, consumers turned their focus to essentials and their homes. This helped drive incredible growth in many retail channels.

In 2021 the Total Retail market moved into a full recovery with spectacular growth. Many channels showed a strong sales rebound from 2020. Others built upon their pandemic success while many returned to a more normal growth pattern. However, a few continued to decline. The Top 100 companies had participants in all of these patterns.

In 2022 we were hit by strong inflation in many categories which slowed both actual and real growth.

The Top 100 is a contest with the winners changing slightly every year. It is a critical part of the U.S. Market, accounting for almost 60% of Relevant Retail Revenue and 35+% of Total Retail. Sales have increased annually but the Top 100’s share of Total Retail peaked in 2020 and in 2019 for Relevant Retail and has steadily declined. The Top 10 has had consistent annual growth but sales in the #11>100 actually fell in 2020 and their 19>22 increase is only about 1/3 of the Top 10’s lift. However, we should remember that we discovered a new hero in 2021 – Relevant Retail, not in the Top 100. The 19>22 Sales by these smaller guys are +47%, 50% more than the Top 10. Their performance continues to be amazing.

Pet Products are an important part of the success of the Top 100. 87 companies (96.4% of $) sell Pet items in 165K stores and/or online. The 74 companies that stock pet products in their stores generated $2.58T in total sales. How much was from pet? Let’s “Do the math”. If we take out the $23.6B done by Top 100 Pet stores and the remaining companies generated only 1.7% of their sales from Pet, we’re looking at $43.4B in Pet Products sales from 71 non-pet sources! (The 1.7% Pet share is based on the Economic Census.) If you add Product sales for Pet Stores back in, Total Pet Products sales for the Top 100 are $67B. The APPA reported $89.6B in Pet Products sales for 2022. That means 71 mass market retailers accounted for 48.4% of all the Pet Products sold in the U.S. and 74 Top 100 companies generated 74.8%. Pet Products are widespread in the retail marketplace but the $ are concentrated. All Pet Industry participants should monitor the Top 100 group.

Retail sales increases slowed in 2022 as inflation became a major factor. The situation is still evolving but the Top 100 will always be a critical part of U.S. Retail. I hope that this detailed look helped put this group into a better perspective.