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3 charts about U.S. retailer store productivity and growth

3 min read


It’s not easy for retailers to maximize how much they sell on a per-square-foot basis. It’s harder to continue to show growth in that metric after you become a leader, and harder still to do both of those things while also adding square footage.

But there are a few companies that can say they’ve accomplished the trifecta, according to new data from eMarketer that tracked more than 225 retailers — Kate Spade, Vince and Michael Kors are in the top 15 in each category. Here are three charts and some background:

Sales per square foot

Apple is the leader here over the most recent trailing 12-month period, and it’s neither particularly close nor a surprise. High-end tech isn’t the only path to success, though; the other two companies averaging more than $3,000 per square foot are the jeweler Tiffany & Co. and Murphy USA, which is on the list because of its convenience stores attached to gas stations.

Murphy is particularly interesting. It exists as a spin off from Murphy Oil. Unlike some of the high-end, fashionable retailers it outsells on a square-foot basis, Murphy USA has a reliance on tobacco sales, hardly an iconic product these days. The company also locates near Wal-Marts, sometimes in direct partnership, and is looking to expand physically and in product offerings.

Meanwhile, the top three companies are not leaders in growth, which is understandable considering how they outpace every other retailer by more than $1,000 per square foot, on average.

Growth in average sales per square foot

So, who is the leader is sales-per-square-foot growth? Restoration Hardware, with a growth rate 6 percentage points, or 33%, higher than the next closest retailer, Vince. Michael Kors, fourth in overall sales per square foot, is fifth here, increasing an already impressive sales figure by 14.5%, trailed closely in both categories by Kate Spade, a company that is probably on the radars of companies like Coach and Michael Kors.

Why is Restoration Hardware on the rise? eMarketer credits the company’s “design galleries” — “larger-format stores that range from 25,000 to 60,000 square feet, which are staged like luxury residences and come with amenities like restaurants and rooftop gardens.”


Growth in square feet

This last chart isn’t about sales at all, but about who is adding the most square footage over the most recent trailing-twelve-month period. Kate Spade shows up again, not only being a leader in sales per square foot and a growing player in that space, but also increasing gross square footage by 46.9%, outpacing the likes of Vince and Michael Kors.

Vince, notably, recently signed a 10-year lease for 33,000 square feet at a 59-story New York City tower.

This ranking, you may notice, is not one to be populated by giant retailers. “Deckers Outdoor, which currently has 117 stores that average 2,700 square feet per unit, increased its retail space nearly 50% year over year to lead the market,” eMarketer noted. But you may actually know Deckers more than you think: The company is the maker of Ugg boots, and part of its transition beyond the Ugg line is to become more of a retailer and less of a wholesaler, the company told the Wall Street Journal this year.

James daSilva is a senior editor at SmartBrief and manages SmartBlog on Leadership. He edits SmartBrief’s newsletters on leadership and entrepreneurship. Before joining SmartBrief, he was copy desk chief at a daily newspaper in New York. You can find him on Twitter discussing leadership and management issues @SBLeaders