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Are You Seeing the Full Retail Picture?

There are two events this week that explain why many retail analysts aren't offering a full picture of the retail industry: Apple's earnings report and LivingSocial's deal with Amazon.

Apple Store
Flickr: dulk
Apple Store

Apple's earnings report shed new light on how much of a retail powerhouse the company is becoming.

Then there is LivingSocial, which in 24 hours sold more than 1 million $20 gift cards for Amazon.com for $10 each. Think about that for a second. According to USA Today, that pace represents more than 99,000 per hour, or 2,000 per minute, or 85 per second.

"For perspective, a recent Groupon promotion with national retailer Gap was selling 10 vouchers per second, LivingSocial notes," the report said.

Craig Johnson, president of Customer Growth Partners, said both Apple and Amazon are not only the fastest growing retailers in the country, they've become the largest and most influential as well.

According to Johnson, Apple is now the 13th largest merchandise retailer, passing Gap, and Amazon is the nation's sixth largest retailer, by revenue. That means it's bigger than traditional retail icons Sears and Macy's.

And the influence of Apple extends beyond its retail prowess. It is a style icon, Johnson says, much the way Ralph Lauren , Donna Karan,and Dolce & Gabbana have been.

"As I like to say, fashion is not about fabric, fashion is about newness," Johnson says. He notes that a person is making a statement when they take out their iPad while sitting on the train.

Questions? Comments? Email us at consumernation@cnbc.com

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