The top spot belongs to … Dress Barn? Or rather, the Ascena Retail Group, which was formerly known as Dress Barn. (The company renamed itself at the beginning of 2011.) Despite the new name, and Dress Barn’s attempt at a hip rebranding with a switch to the lowercase, one-word dressbarn, the chain appeals mainly to middle-of-the-road moms — “targeting 35- to 55-year-old women seeking casual fashion at value prices,” according to the National Retail Federation’s Stores magazine, which assembles the list of Hot 100 Retailers annually.
Ascena owns dressbarn as well as sister apparel stores Maurices and Justice, which aim to attract fashionable 17-to-34-year-old women and 7- to-14-year-old girls, respectively. Instead of taking the department-store strategy and trying to be all things to all shoppers, these stores have been extremely successful with a more targeted approach:
“Focusing on specific segments is a key strategy of many of the Hot 100 apparel retailers,” says Bryan Gildenberg, chief knowledge officer for Kantar Retail. “Both Ascena and Urban Outfitters do a terrific job running multiple formats off a common platform that appeals to significantly different audiences.”
From 2009 to 2010, Ascena stores saw a 58.9% growth in sales overall. Amazon’s sales grew slower over that span (up 46.2%), landing the online retailer the No. 2 ranking — which is probably fine with Amazon, especially considering its sales were over $18.5
million billion in the U.S., compared with $2.3 million billion for Ascena. Amazon has been on the Hot 100 Retailers list every year since its inception in 2006, and it is expected to continue strong growth for years to come.
Here’s the rest of the Hot 100 Retailer’s top 10 (which doesn’t include Urban Outfitters, at No. 18):
No. 3: Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market (37.8% sales growth)
No. 4: hhgregg (36.3%)
No. 5: Tops Friendly Markets (33.1%)
No. 6: Bodega Latina (32.5%)
No. 7: Apple Stores/iTunes (32.3%)
No. 8: Netflix (29.5%)
No. 9: H&M (29.3%)
No. 10: Overstock.com (23.8%)
It’s noteworthy that three companies in the top 10 are purely online retailers (Amazon, Netflix and Overstock). But considering how angry some Netflix customers have gotten over price hikes, it would be surprising if that company’s sales continued to soar. For that matter, much of Apple’s sales are conducted online as well, meaning that four of the top 10 hottest retailers do all or most of their sales via the Internet.
Also interesting: the rise of upstart grocery stores. Bigger chains, such as Whole Foods, Wegmans and Trader Joe’s, are in the top 100, but the stores experiencing the fastest growth are the lesser-known three in the list above.
MORE: And the Nation’s Favorite Low-Cost Grocery Store Is …
Brad Tuttle is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @bradrtuttle. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.