Top 20 Most Competitive Retailers in 2009

EXCLUSIVE TO RIS: Coach claims the top spot on The Top 20 Most Competitive Retailers list compiled by Wall Street analyst firm wRatings. A rapidly changing economic landscape has caused a major shakeup in the 2009 list. Find out how Aeropostale, Amazon, The Buckle, T.J. Maxx and other retailers rank on Wall Street's most-competitive list.

In an exclusive arrangement, Gary Williams, CEO and Founder of wRatings, who also recently addressed retailers at the RIS-hosted Retail Executive Summit, evaluated more than 1,200 companies to compile the annual Top 20 list and released the information today to RIS. Each retailer is ranked with a W Score on scale of 100. A W score of 100 means the retailer built the highest consumer and economic advantages compared to other companies evaluated in the study.

According to Williams, competitive companies in the first quarter of 2009 are on track to emerge from the recession with greater customer and economic strength than their rivals. Winning retailers are succeeding based on their access to real-time data and ability to transform their business faster than before.

"In mid-2008, we've seen the emotional state of consumers heighten to our highest levels since the last recession," says Williams. "Yet, we can also see that pricing power remains at a relatively consistent level around 4.1 percent nationwide. This means that consumer demand is out there, and the smartest companies are figuring out how to best meet the new customer expectations."

To arrive at theses rankings, the Washington D.C.-based investment analysis firm blends financial and consumer data and asks consumers how well companies meet their expectations every quarter. The consumer ratings are categorized by 9 competitive moats: three each in supply chain, products and customers, and then the W Score blends the retailer's historical economic profit with its competitive moat scores.

Here is the 2009 list of Top 20 Most Competitive Retailers according to wRatings:

2009-Q1 RankMid-2008 RankRetailerW Score
282Jos A. Bank91.6
334Aeropostale90.7 (non-books)88.1
617Guess Stores87.0
747Amazon (Books Only)86.9
838T.J. Maxx85.3
937Abercrombie & Fitch84.6
1094DSW Shoes81.8
1199The Buckle80.9
1288Victoria's Secret80.6
13105Limited Too80.2
144American Eagle80.1
15111Dress Barn79.7
1972Urban Outfitters77.0
2032The UPS Store76.7

Coach, which claims top honors on this year's list with a score of 92.7, ranks highly due to its ability to adapt to the new cost-conscious consumer. It's no surprise that low priced retailers such as T.J. Maxx, The Buckle and Urban Outfitters make the list since the downturn generally favors low- or value priced companies. More surprisingly is that higher priced retailers including Guess Stores, Abercrombie and Fitch and Victoria's Secret each claim a spot on this select list. Their presence on the list exemplifies that consumers remain willing to make premium purchases.

The 2009 edition of Most Competitive Retail & Consumer Goods companies shows a breakdown of the Top 20 companies in each industry, unveils critical trends in consumer expectations and pricing power, and spotlights several companies from the Top 20.

Click here for more information about Gary Williams and wRatings.

For additional coverage see "Wall Street Rates Top 20 Retailers."