2022 Retail Category Winners and Losers (Jan-Nov)

Posted by Lance Blick on Dec 9, 2022 11:00:00 AM

Retail winners and losers (# of stores)

As 2022 comes to a close and SiteSeer clients are looking toward and planning for 2023, we wanted to revisit a topic we’ve discussed on the blog in years past: which retail categories grew and shrunk (physical stores/locations) during the year (to date). To refresh your memory, we first analyzed data on store openings and closures for 2020, and then again for 2021 (or more accurately, January-October 2021).

The 2020 analysis was interesting, because the year started off as a typical year often does. Then, the coronavirus outbreak unfolded and was declared a global pandemic on March 11th, impacting every aspect of daily life and business--and the retail industry. 

The 2021 analysis was also eye-opening, as the Delta variant of COVID-19 caused more chaos and businesses continued to navigate troubled waters.

Here we are now, about to turn the page from 2022 to 2023. While vaccines and treatments have eased fears about the pandemic and helped many return to a life that resembles pre-COVID normal, the aftermath is notable. Bloomberg’s roundup of pandemic changes in the U.S. includes:

  • A remote working revolution
  • People leaving coastal cities like New York and San Francisco for more affordable locations like Phoenix and Boise
  • A booming housing market in 2021, followed by a cooler market with declining prices and higher mortgage interest rates in 2022.
  • Job openings near record highs, followed by a cooling toward the end of the year—yet, a still-strong job market.
  • Jaw-dropping price increases on everything from gasoline to cars to groceries.

What does it all mean for the retail industry?

A great deal still feels up in the air. When it comes to the retail industry, the National Retail Federation is forecasting a 6-8% holiday spending increase (yes, increase) in November and December 2022 as compared with November 2021. In fact, retail sales for the first 10 months of 2022 increased 7.5% year over year.

What retail categories saw the biggest increases Jan-Nov 2022?

Here's a rundown of retail categories with the biggest increase (in number of locations) between January 2022 and November 2022:


% Change | Jan to Nov 2022

Car Wash


Loan and Pawn


Cannabis Retail


Office Supply/Services








Pet Supplies/Services


Restaurant - Other


Sports And Recreation


Coffee Shop


Ag Equipment and Supplies


Discount Store


Optical and Vision


Home Improvement


General Merchandise


Home Specialty




Department Store


Restaurant - Fast Casual


Fitness And Gyms


Hair, Skin and Nails


Specialty Retail


Grocery Store


Restaurant - Fine Dining


Senior Living


Other Food/Beverage


Restaurant - Quick Service




Restaurant - Casual





A few observations about the "biggest winners" in retail (% increase in locations): 

  • Many of the retail categories that saw big increases in % change of locations in 2021 are much further down this list in 2022. One example: Ag Equipment and Supplies, which grew 25.3% in 2021, and only 3.6% in 2022.
  • If you’ve ever thought to yourself when driving around, “Wow, there are a lot of car washes in my area,” you’re absolutely right. The Car Wash category jumped 31.2% in 2022! Companies like Tital Wave Auto Spa and Mister Car Wash are growing, and the industry as a whole has been growing for years due to factors like a growing base of vehicle registrations and a consumer shift toward “do-it-for-me” offerings.
  • With many remote workers returning to offices, it’s not too surprising to see Office Supply/Services moving from the “biggest losers” list in 2021 to the “biggest winners” list in 2022—at 12.37% (compared to -10.1% in 2021).
  • Cannabis is a new retail category, which can be attributed to the legalization of marijuana in many more states in the 2022 election.
  • Optical, Dental and Healthcare saw growth in 2022—perhaps a signal that COVID is still affecting people’s health and also that people are returning to regular healthcare visits they might have pushed off during the height of the pandemic.
  • Dining has been up and down in terms of increases/decreases in physical locations in recent years for obvious pandemic-induced reasons, but the category may have leveled some in the 11 months of 2022. All restaurant categories grew slightly, which they also did in 2021.

What retail categories saw the biggest decreases Jan-Nov 2022?

And now for a list of retail categories that had the biggest decreases (in number of locations) between January 2022 and November 2022:


% Change | Jan to Nov 2022

Consumer Electronics






Vitamins and Nutrition




Pharmacy/Drug Store




Cosmetics and Beauty


Banks and Financial


Fuel/Convenience Store


Clothing and Apparel



A few observations about the "biggest losers" in retail (% decrease in locations): 

  • First, the good news: there were far fewer categories that saw decreases in number of locations in 2022 than in 2021 (about half).
  • Consumer Electronics took a big hit this year, decreasing 21.6% in this 11-month period. With this category including cell phone stores (think Verizon, Sprint, Apple) and niche electronics stores like Batteries Plus, Gamestop and MetroPCS, one could make the assumption that online shopping has contributed to the decrease in physical locations in 2022.
  • Hobby/Toys/Crafts/Books saw decreases once again, which could be attributable in part to amazon closing all of its Amazon Book stores in 2022.
  • The % decreases were less for categories like Clothing and Apparel, Footwear, and Vitamins and Nutrition in 2022 as compared to 2021, but more in other categories, including Theaters and Cinema.
  • Although the % decrease is small (-0.45%), Banks and Financial joined the “losers” category after seeing 3.9% growth in number of locations in 2021.

A note about the data

This data comes from our data partner, ChainXY. Note that we’re sharing number of locations in their data on January 2022 compared to number of locations in their data for the same chains that were in their database then again on November 2022. So, if a chain was added to their database sometime between February 2022 and November 2022, it isn’t included here.

Making good business and market decisions requires analytics

Once again, it’s been an interesting year (so far) in retail. We hope this list offers some insights that are useful for you. The more you know, the easier you can adapt fast. And as we always say, the better you understand your customers, the easier challenging times will be for you to navigate.

If SiteSeer can help you understand the landscape and plan ahead, call us. Our retail site selection software and professional services in everything from forecasting to market planning to predictive modeling for retailers, restaurant chains and other chain businesses can help you make smarter, data-driven decision at a time when that really matters. Contact us for a demo or consultation!

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Topics: Smart Retail Growth, Data Study, Retail Site Selection, Site Selection Criteria, Site Selection Checklist

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