Survival of the biggest was the name of the game in a year defined by uncertainty and upheaval.
The titans of retail — think Amazon, Walmart and Target — emerged stronger than ever as the COVID-19 health crisis drove panic-stricken shoppers to stores that carried essential goods and websites that were able to accommodate their changing demands.
Within the fashion and footwear sectors, the winners were defined by their ability to quickly pivot resources to digital and emphasize categories (like athletic and casual wear) that catered to work- and play-from-home needs. They leveraged their delivery networks, transformed their physical spaces into distribution centers and took risks that their competitors — some of whom went bankrupt or permanently shuttered scores of stores — could not.
Here, FN rounds up the successful retail companies that forged ahead in 2020.
The online giant’s stock has grown more than 65% year-to-date as shoppers stocked up on essentials. Its Prime Day event, though delayed to Oct. 13 and 14, had yet another strong showing. The company also unveiled its Luxury Stores platform, giving designers Oscar de la Renta, Altuzarra and others more control over their store-within-a- store experience on the site.
The company’s casual and active offerings — which coincide with pandemic-induced shifts to at-home and active lifestyles — are driving Deckers. In the second quarter, when overall revenues shot up 15%, Ugg, which continues to yield the bulk of revenues, saw a 2.5% gain in sales, while revenues at Teva increased 20.5%. The star of the show continues to be Hoka One One, which delivered a whopping 83.2% spike in sales.
Dick’s Sporting Goods
The sporting goods retailer recorded its “highest-ever quarterly sales and earnings” in Q2, with e-commerce surging 194%. While it benefited from the shift to athletic and outdoor styles, Dick’s was also one of the early adopters of curbside pickup service when the outbreak struck the U.S. And, amid widespread store closure, the company is continuing to expand its brick and mortar fleet: Throughout August, the chain opened 11 locations in nine states as other retailers were closing shop for good.
With pandemic store closures propelling luxury e-commerce to new heights, Farfetch has been at the center of the boom. In the second quarter alone, the digital platform set another quarterly gross merchandise value record and announced game-changing strategic partnership with Alibaba Group and Richemont. The digital titan, which owns Browns Fashion, Stadium Goods and New Guards Group, also added Harrods to its platform and inked an exclusive partnership with LVMH’s Fenty by Rihanna label this year.
As shoppers continued to spend on athletic and casual shoes, the retailer posted a Q3 earnings and sales beat, and its comps increased 7.7%. It also recently introduced its Power Store model, unveiling the second U.S-based outpost of its kind in California in August.
In late March, despite the domino effect of retailers shuttering their stores — many of which were making the call before government orders were put in place — Hibbett made the decision to continue operating its physical outposts. The decision appeared to pay off — helping the retailer acquire new and seemingly loyal customers while its rivals had gone dark. Q3 comps improve 21.2%, reflecting a 17.5% gain in brick-and-mortar sales and a 50.7% surge in e-commerce. It attributed the growth to increased omnichannel adoption, improved new customer retention, availability of in-demand product and broader market disruption.
Lululemon’s DTC sales advanced 155% in Q2, while both revenues and profits bested expectations. It also entered into a $500 million deal to snap up startup Mirror, which hit some stores this holiday season. As part of its five-year growth strategy, the brand plans to enter the footwear market: This month, it announced that it would introduce shoes in the back half of the next year and begin selling in early 2022.
A pandemic playbook helped widen the gap between the Swoosh and its competitors: While many fashion and athletic players scaled back on openings, it forged ahead with digital-centric stores in Guangzhou, Seoul, Los Angeles and Paris, plus two upcoming openings in New York. The sportswear giant is also scaling back on wholesale partnerships that aren’t in sync with its consumer-first strategy.
Like some rivals, Shoe Carnival’s Q2 gains were attributed to adult athletic sales as the outbreak forced consumers to find ways to stay active indoors amid lockdowns. Third-quarter earnings also exceeded expectations, even as sales from a pandemic-delayed back-to-school season factored largely into the period. Its e-commerce was a big win, increasing 150% and boosting overall comps. Its Shoe Perks loyalty program has also captured nearly 26 million members.
Skechers delivered a stronger-than-anticipated Q3 report as it rebounded in certain global markets and saw notable sales gains for its casual shoe styles. The company continued to see a big bounce in e-commerce sales, which rose a sharp 172.1% in the period.
In similar fashion to rival Walmart, Target revealed its answer to Amazon’s Prime Day with Deal Days — its bid to lure in more shoppers. The big-box chain notably logged a 217% increase in same-day and contactless services in Q3 as it doubles down on its order pickup, drive-up and Shipt offerings. It also recently celebrated the 20th anniversary of its first designer collaboration, leading to similar high-low partnerships throughout the industry, as well as announced a partnership with Ulta. (Roughly 1,000-square-foot shop-in-shop Ulta destinations will begin rolling out at 100 Target stores next year.)
While it’s been an uneven year for the footwear and apparel giant, its winning product mix is helping fuel rapid improvement. Strength in work and outdoor helped the company handily beat Q2 top- and bottom-line expectations — and market watchers expect further acceleration. The pivot to digital (and away from wholesale) is also paying off, with Vans and Timberland showing impressive gains online. What’s more, VF signed last month a definitive merger agreement with Supreme, which it said could offer a $1 billion global opportunity.
The retailer made a bid for TikTok along with Oracle (the deal still needs government approval), as well as moved forward with a dramatic redesign of its supercenters. It also launched a bevy of offerings to compete with rival Amazon, such as its Walmart+ subscription service and its Big Save shopping event. As pandemic-related sales soared, it hired hundreds of thousands of workers to keep up with demand.