Retail chains were the only other merchant type to see a rise in median conversion rate.

The median conversion rate among the Top 500 rose in 2021, albeit slightly, to 3.13% from the 3.10% seen a year earlier.

But that modest growth largely was confined to the retailers we call direct marketers. Top 500 companies in this group generate a significant portion of their sales through channels other than physical stores or websites, like printed catalogs and TV shopping shows. This distinguishes them from retail chains and online-only retailers. And they do not primarily sell their own products, setting them apart from consumer brand manufacturers.

Median conversion rate lift

In 2021, the conversion rate for direct marketers grew 1.4% to reach a median conversion rate of 5.00%. By contrast, retail chains were the only other merchant type to see a rise in median conversion rate. They saw 0.2% growth to 3.70%.


Looking at the numbers by merchandise category tells a similar story. Sporting goods saw 11.8% growth in median conversion rate in 2021 from a year earlier. That’s the only double-digit increase among the 14 categories we track. The best median conversion rate in 2021 was in flowers/gifts: 7.92%. The food/beverage category had a not-too-shabby 5.07% median conversion rate. But that was flat compared with 2020. Shoppers returned to brick-and-mortar grocery shopping as the pandemic receded, suggesting that online grocery shopping may be reaching a ceiling of sorts.

More Charts & Data Stories

This chart is derived from the analysis in our 2022 Top 500 Report. We add new content regularly. Check back soon for more Charts & Data Stories

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