February 14, 2012, 11:44 AM

Top 500 web-only merchants have the early sales lead

Combined sales increased year over year 37.1%.

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It’s still early in the research, but web-only merchants as a group continue to generate the most sales among this year’s Top 500 retailers, according to a preliminary analysis of data for the forthcoming 2012 Top 500 Guide.

The combined sales for the 94 merchants that have so far reported annual web sales increased 37.1% to $67.23 billion in 2011 from $49.04 billion in 2010. And web-only merchants make up the fastest-growing Top 500 merchant category so far with collective sales that increased year over year 38.8% to $56.01 billion in 2011 from $40.36 billion in the prior year. The results for the web-only merchants include Amazon.com, whose sales grew nearly 41% last year to $48.08 billion from $34.20 billion in the prior year. But even without Amazon, No. 1 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, sales for the remaining online-only retailers grew year over year 28.7% to $7.93 billion from $6.16 billion.

The analysis of 52 web-only merchants, 23 retail chains, 13 catalog/call center companies and 6 consumer brand manufacturers also reveals:

  • Top 500 consumer brand manufacturers posted combined sales of $387.4 million in 2011 from $279.6 million in 2010, an increase of 38.5%.
  • Store-based retailers continue to generate more business online. The combined web sales of chain retailers grew about 25.6% to $8.90 billion last year from $7.09 billion in 2010.
  • Catalogers posted the lowest growth rate among all Top 500 merchant types in 2011, growing web sales 15% year over year to $1.92 billion from $1.67 billion.
  • Without Amazon, the remaining 93 merchants experienced annual growth of 29% from sales of $14.84 billion in 2010 to $19.15 billion in 2011.
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