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High Five: Wayfair, Nordstom, Target and WalMart’s Fourth Quarter

by Ken Cassar - February 18, 2016

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High Five is a high-level analyst commentary on the news based on data from Slice Intelligence’s panel of four million consumers.

You can’t talk about retailers’ Fourth Quarter without talking about the Holiday shopping season, particularly for ecommerce, which accounts for more than a quarter of all annual sales.  You also can’t talk about the biggest online retailing quarter without talking about the biggest online retailer. So we'll start our first High Five with Amazon.

Amazon’s dominance of the online retail space grew during Holiday 2015.

Amazon sales (including Amazon first party and Marketplace sales) grew by 12 percent in Holiday 2015 (November 1st – December 27th), compared with growth of 10 percent overall.  While the percent difference might seem modest, Amazon’s significant market share meant that this growth accounted for more than half of total online sales dollar growth during the 2015 Holiday season.

Wayfair was the fastest growing merchant in HQ4 2015.

Wayfair, the online only seller of furniture and home goods, enjoyed sales growth of 150 percent in Q4 2015.  This was partially due to strong overall online growth--19 percent from Q4 2014 to Q4 2015-- in home-related categories, but Wayfair appears to have stolen shoppers from Amazon, Restoration Hardware and Macy's.

Target gained ground through smart merchandising and promotions.

Target.com’s Q4 2015 sales grew by 52 percent, more than five times faster than overall online channel growth. Three bets paid seem to have paid off for Target:  a strong assortment of exclusive Star Wars toys—most notably the BB8 Droid-- accounted for 13 percent of all Target.com toy sales compared with just six percent at rival Walmart.com.  A couple of aggressive Apple promotions, which rewarded Apple Watch and iPad buyers with $100 and $150 Target gift cards—helped the retailer dominate in the electronics category.   Finally, Target made a bold bet by offering free shipping on all orders, without a minimum qualifying order size.  The resulting three percent drop in average order size was actually less than the 5 percent drop in order size at Walmart.com.

Nordstrom.com widened its lead over other department stores.

Nordstrom Q4 2015 sales grew by 20 percent, 4 points better than competitor Macys.com.  Shoes, long a strength at Nordstrom, grew to account for 28 percent of Q4 sales.  Again, with Nordstrom, we see a retailer that enjoyed strong revenue growth despite a drop in average order size, in this case of 13 percent.

The online Holiday shopping season is stretching out.

Early retailer promotions sparked an early start to Holiday sales, with sales before Black Friday growing by 14 percent compared with 10 percent growth for the season.  More significantly, we saw a continuation of growth in late Holiday season sales that started in 2014, with sales in the week before Christmas growing by 22 percent.  Amazon was responsible for much of this growth, with sales up 28 percent from the same week the previous year.  Yet more evidence of the value in Amazon’s world-class fulfillment infrastructure.


Want to hear more? More data and commentary is available – contact us at press@slice.com.

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