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This is a list of the ten largest retailers in the world according to financial data compiled at the beginning of August 2020. These companies are all very well known and continuously rank at the top when we look at their revenue.
The revenue listed will be their reported revenue for the preceding 12 months, based on the early August review. It should be noted that this is not based on calendar year reportings. These numbers also tend to fluctuate, depending on the months used to determine value. It’s not uncommon for some of the players to swap positions over time.
Walmart. Bentonville, Arkansas USA
Annual revenue: $534.7 billion
Walmart began more than 50 years ago as a single discount store in Rogers, Arkansas. Today, there are more than 10,000 stores in 24 countries, and they have a significant eCommerce presence as well. The company has coined the phrase Everyday Low Prices (EDLP), and it is their mission to put pricing strategy first.
They also have expanded to offer one-stop shopping in many of their stores with grocery, sporting goods, crafts, clothing, household goods, and more. This type of store offering is often called a hypermarket. Walmart also owns Sam’s Club retail warehouses.
Not only does Walmart have the distinction of being the world’s largest retail company, but it is also the world’s largest company of any sort and is the largest private employer in the world.
Amazon. Seattle, Washington USA
Annual revenue: $321.8 billion
Amazon was the brainchild of Jeff Bezos in 1994, and it was an online marketplace dedicated to selling books originally. Eventually, the company expanded and began selling just about anything and everything. In the United States,
Amazon has surpassed Walmart as the most valuable retailer in the US, but Walmart still reigns supreme globally. Amazon doesn’t just own its eCommerce website; in 2017, they purchased Whole Foods, which made them a physical retailer as well.
Falling behind Walmart, Amazon is the second-largest private employer in the United States. Jeff Bezos has announced that he will be stepping down as CEO of the company he founded in 2021, but it’s doubtful that this move will cause any financial harm to the retail giant.
Costco. Issaquah, Washington USA
Annual revenue: $160.9 billion
Costco is currently headquartered in Issaquah, Washington, but it got its start back in 1976 in San Diego, California. At the time, the company went by the name Price Club. It started out with a clientele base that consisted of small businesses, but they realized they’d do better if they expanded the market to non-businesses and started a “club.”
The first actual Costco was opened in Seattle in 1983, and it was the first company to go from zero to $3 billion in sales in less than six years. By 1993, Price Club and Costco merged and operated under the name PriceCostco, but by 1997 they decided to change the name to Costco Wholesale Corporation and rebranded everything.
Today, you can buy just about anything in a Costco. They are the world’s largest retailers of choice and prime beef, organic foods, rotisserie chicken, and wine.
Walgreens. Deerfield, Illinois USA
Annual revenue: $138.7 billion
Walgreens began in Chicago, Illinois in 1901, and is still headquartered nearby in Deerfield. It’s the second-largest pharmacy chain in the United States, and they sell much more than just prescription and over-the-counter medications.
In fact, when Walgreens first opened, it was actually a tiny food store that just had a storefront in a larger building. Interestingly, prohibition may have played a part in the company’s success. By the beginning of prohibition, there were 20 Walgreens stores in the Chicago area.
While alcohol was prohibited, prescription whiskey was sold by Walgreens. The company grew and expanded long after prohibition, and today they consistently rank as one of the top 10 retailers in the world.
Kroger. Cincinnati, Ohio USA
Annual revenue: $126.6 billion
Bernard Kroger founded Kroger way back in 1883 in the same city where it is headquartered today. They are the largest supermarket by revenue in the United States and the fourth-largest private employer in this country.
While they’re known for their grocery stores, they have branched out and operated department stores, jewelry stores, and convenience stores. They even have Little Clinic medical offices inside some of their stores.
Kroger is a giant when you consider the fact that they’re not an actual global player, and they only have stores in 35 of the 50 states. They have a strong hold and do incredible business in the states where they have stores.
Because they operate under more than two dozen different banners, there’s a good chance you’ve shopped at a Kroger and didn’t even know it.
Home Depot. Atlanta, Georgia USA
Annual revenue: $112.1 billion
Home Depot is the largest home improvement retailer in the United States. They offer everything from lumber to potted plants. It’s one of the noted “big box” stores with a physical store footprint that’s quite impressive.
Today they operate in the United States, Guam, Puerto Rico, Canada, and Mexico. The company began in 1978 with the goal of building the biggest home improvement store around, which they did.
In the mid-2010s, Home Depot had some issues in their revenues and their management, namely the CEOs. Since then, they’ve recovered and have seen nice, steady revenue increases since 2015.
JD.com. Beijing, China
Annual revenue: $86.4 billion
While the companies above this are all pretty well-known around the world, especially in the United States, this one might be one you’ve never heard of. JD.com is also known as Jingdong, and before that, they went by the name 360buy.
Initially, the company began as an online optical store but quickly diversified into an eCommerce company mainly focused on selling electronics and books. They not only sell products themselves, but they also have third-party vendors who sell on their site.
Today they have branched out from electronics and are now active in the spaces of logistics, technology, overseas businesses, and insurance. If you’re interested in drone delivery of eCommerce goods, they’ve invested heavily in this technology, and if it takes off (no pun intended), they might be a company to watch.
Tesco. Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire England
Annual revenue: $82.6 billion
For those unfamiliar with Tesco, it’s a British grocery and general merchandise retailer. They are the third-largest retailer in the world when you look at gross revenue. There are Tesco stores in five different countries across Europe, and they’re the market leader in groceries in the United Kingdom.
Founded in 1919, Tesco started as simply a group of market stalls. The name Tesco wasn’t even attached until 1924 when Jack Cohen, the founder, bought a shipment of tea from T.E. Stockwell and used the first three letters of Stockwell’s name and the first two from his last name to create Tesco. They’ve been diversifying since the 1960s and expanding their reach incrementally.
Carrefour. Boulogne-Billancourt, France
Annual revenue: $81.1 billion
The first Carrefour shop opened in 1960 and was a partnership between Marcel Fournier, a novelties shop owner, and the Badin-Defforey family, who specialized in food wholesales. By 1963, they opened the first hypermarket in France and offered a wide variety of products at low prices.
By 1993, they were ready to expand internationally and opened their first stores in Italy and soon after in China. In 1999, after a merger, they became the second-largest retailer in the world, which made them quite ready to jump on the eCommerce bandwagon in 2000.
By 2016, their eCommerce was taking off, and they announced several new international eCommerce ventures. The company is still, obviously, doing quite well.
Target. Minneapolis, Minnesota USA
Annual revenue: $80.1 billion
Target started as a discount division of the Dayton-Hudson Corporation in the 1960s. It wasn’t until the 80s that the company began expanding and in the 1990s the Target brand got its foothold. Since then, the company has taken an interesting approach with a concept built on being trendy and an elevated option to discount.
They had so much success that the parent company renamed itself the Target Corporation in 2000 and focused on this branch of the company. An early adopter of the eCommerce concept, they continued to see growth and success while other similar stores struggled.
Today they have Targets and SuperTargets, and most of these stores are large. Some CityTarget stores have smaller footprints, and they’re located in major metropolitan downtown regions.
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