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Retail

Discount, Ecommerce Channels Add $1.3 Billion in U.S. & Canada Licensed Sales

Contact the editor at karina@plainlanguagemedia.com

The discount/mass and online/ecommerce channels alone added an additional $1.3 billion in licensed retail sales in 2018, according to TLL’s Annual Licensing Business Survey. That’s exactly 91.0% of the $1.5 billion growth in licensed retail sales from 2017.



The share of retail sales of licensed merchandise conducted through online/ecommerce channels grew to reach 12.4% of total sales in the U.S. & Canada. The category jumped by 0.5 percentage points compared to last year, or just over $640 million in additional sales. Amazon was, of course, the predominant driver behind this growth. But there has been a significant jump in sales for the online side of major discount/mass retailers Walmart and Target as well as online native retailer eBay.

The biggest channel, and the one that gained the most dollar value in 2018, was actually discount/mass. The category was up 2.0% last year, or over $700 million, to reach a total of $35.91 billion in licensed retail sales.

The second-largest channel by retail sales, specialty stores, dropped -2.0% to reach $20.30 billion in 2018. The drop was largely attributable to Toys”R”Us; excempting the toy retailer, most speciality shops recorded positive growth (although not necessarily an increase in retail sales share). This channel saw the largest percentage point drop in share at 0.9 points.

Department stores/mid-tier reached an even $13.00 billion in licensed retail sales after flattish 0.2% sales growth from the previous year.

Grocery and drug stores jumped 0.9% in 2018, or almost $120 million, maintaining the channel’s 12.0% share of licensed retail sales.

The dollar/value/off-price channel was up 2.5%, the second-fastest growing category following online/ecommerce. At 9.2% share of total U.S. & Canada licensed sales, the channel is worth $10.28 billion.

Variety and convenience was up 1.3% to reach $2.65 billion in 2018.

TV shopping ($1.10 billion) and mail order ($0.11 billion) were both up by 1.0% from the previous year, and are expected to remain particularly strong revenue drivers for licensed lines.


Retail Sales of Licensed Merchandise, by Distribution Channel, U.S. & Canada, 2017–2018
Note: Numbers may not add up exactly due to rounding.
(Figures in millions)
Distribution ChannelRetail Sales, 2018Retail Sales, 2017Change, 2017-2018Share, 2018
Discount/Mass$35,914$35,2102.0%32.5%
Specialty Stores$20,298$20,712-2.0%18.4%
Department Stores/Mid-tier$12,998$12,9720.2%11.8%
Grocery and Drug$13,309$13,1900.9%12.0%
Online/Ecommerce$13,722$13,0814.9%12.4%
Dollar/Value/Off-Price$10,280$10,0292.5%9.3%
Variety and Convenience$2,650$2,6161.3%2.4%
TV Shopping$1,101$1,0901.0%1.0%
Mail Order$110$1091.0%0.1%
Other$105$109-3.5%0.1%
Total$110,488$109,0101.4%100.0%

Representative Retail Stores By Distribution Channel

Mass/Discount/Club/Big Box: BJ’s, Costco, Kmart, Sam’s, Target, Walmart

Specialty Stores: Ace Hardware, Barnes & Noble, Bass Pro, Bed Bath & Beyond, Best Buy, Cabela’s, Cracker Barrel, Dick’s, Forever 21, GameStop, H&M, Home Depot, Limited, Lowe’s, Michaels, Modell’s, museum stores, PetSmart, Sherwin-Williams, Sports Authority, Staples, Zara

Department Stores & Mid-tier: Bloomingdale’s, Dillard’s, JCPenney, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Neiman-Marcus, Sears

Grocery and Drug: Ahold, Aldi, CVS Caremark, Giant Eagle, Kroger, Meijer, Publix, RiteAid, Safeway, ShopRite, Walgreen

Dollar/Value/Off-Price: Amazing Savings, Big Lots, Dollar General, Family Dollar, Ross Stores, Save Mart, Supervalu, TJ Maxx

Online/E-commerce: Amazon, Café Press, Gilt, Zappos, Zazzle

Variety and Convenience: 7-Eleven, Circle-K

TV Shopping: HSN, QVC, ShopHQ

Mail Order: Oriental Trading, Signals

Other: Kiosks, on-site, vending, and more

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