The World's Biggest Retail Chains

Ranking the Retailers By Revenue: Walmart, Costco, Kroger, Home Depot, Target

The World's Biggest Retail Chains

Image by Theresa Chiechi © The Balance 2019 

The largest US retail companies on the 2016 World's Biggest Retail Chains List demonstrate the dominance of U.S. based retail chains both at home and abroad. For the first time in a decade, the first, second, and third largest retail companies in the world are all U.S. retail companies.

Walmart, Costco, Kroger, are the World's Biggest Retail Chains in terms of annual revenue. That's according to the 2016 Global Powers of Retailing report, which is published each year by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu and STORES Magazine.

The most significant changes between the 2016 and 2015 Global Powers reports for the largest U.S. retail chains were:

  • Kroger moved from sixth to third, giving the U.S. retail companies the top three rankings for the world's largest retail chains. Albertson's fell off the list altogether and Whole Foods rose two ranking positions from 72nd to 70th.
  • Costco held its ranking behind Walmart, as the second largest retail company in the world. BJ's Wholesale Club also rose three ranking positions to 80th, a reflection of American's love of wholesale club shopping.
  • Walgreens and Target switched places with the 10th and 11th rankings. Target moved down, Walgreens moved up. While Walgreens was on the rise, CVS Caremark and Rite Aid lost ground in the global retail revenue rankings, falling from second to 14th and from 37th to 38th, respectively. 
  • Amazon rose from 15th to #12th, and now there are only half dozen physical retail chains that generate more revenue than the Largest U.S. Internet Shopping Website.
  • Home Depot held its ninth position while Lowe's gained two ranking positions, moving from 20th to 18th. 
  • Despite its struggle to regain retail relevance, Sears fell only two positions in the global retail rankings, a demonstration of how size alone can support survival... at least for a while. 
  • Best Retail Employer Publix continues to prove that Employee satisfaction can be profitable by moving from the 35th ranking to 32nd.
  • TJX rose ranking positions, overtaking Macy's, a reflection of the U.S. trend towards value. Nordstrom, however, continues to buck the trend away from upscale department stores, rising six ranking positions from 80th to 74th. And although not in the "upscale" category, JC Penney also bucked the downward department store trend by rising three spots in the global rankings to 79th.
  • Despite widening its lead as the U.S. retail chain with the most sales per square foot, Apple managed somehow to lose two ranking positions, falling from 46th to 48th.
  • As Kohl's fell one ranking position, Dollar General rose two ranking positions and is now well-positioned to overtake the discount department store in the world retail revenue rankings.
  • Bed Bath and Beyond and Ross Stores wins the prize for the biggest upward jump, each rising nine global ranking positions. And as far as Bed Bath and Beyond and Ross jumped up, the Staples office supply chain fell, losing nine positions down to 85th in the World's Largest Retailers Rankings.
  • L Brands rose four positions from 93rd to 89th.

As is true every year, the 2016 Global Powers list includes privately-held U.S. retail companies as well as U.S. government-run military retail organizations, which is something that makes it significantly different from the 2016 Fortune 500 list. Also, the 2016 Global Powers of Retailing report is based on 2014 revenue figures, so it lags behind and is a little less relevant to those interested in the U.S. retail industry than the annual Retail Fortune 500 rankings.

What the annual Global Powers reports do provide, however, is a global ranking number which provides a comparative perspective on retailing trends worldwide. While the global ranking of the largest retail chains in the world usually remains relatively unchanged from year to year, and the 2016 World's Biggest US Based Retailers list was no exception.
None of the most dramatic year-over-year changes for U.S. retailers on the 2016 Global Powers list will be surprising to anyone who closely followed the U.S. retail industry in the 2014 calendar year. But the value of the Global Powers list each year is in having an easy reference which reveals how changes in the U.S. retail industry compare to changes with retail industries in countries around the world. 

2016 Top 100 Largest US Retail Companies on World's Largest List

In 2016, there were 34 U.S. based retail companies on the Top 100 World's Largest Retailers list, according to the Global Powers of Retailing list published each year by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu and STORES Magazine. That's a larger percentage of the world's largest retail chains that are based in the U.S. than are based in any other country. 

A jobs, investor information, and retail website research index for all the 2016 Largest US Retail chains is below. This list is arranged according to the ranking each of the biggest and best U.S. retail companies received on the 2016 Global Powers of Retailing report, which is based on retail sales revenue for FY 2014.

The number in the left column is the global ranking number each retail company earned, compared to the Top 100 largest retail chains and companies worldwide. Use the links to find out more about the news, jobs, and retailing information for each of these Top 100 U.S. based retail companies. 

2016 Top 100 Largest U.S. Based Retail Companies on World’s Largest Retailers List:

1. Wal-Mart

2. Costco

3. The Kroger Company

9. Home Depot

10. Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc.

11. Target


14. CVS Caremark

18. Lowe's

25. Best Buy

30. Safeway

31. Sears Holdings

32. Publix

  • Investors Information for Publix
  • Publix Jobs and Careers
  • Publix Stores Retail Website

33. TJX

35. Macy's

38. Rite Aid

46. H.E. Butt Grocery Company

48. Apple Retail

53. Kohl's

54. Dollar General

62. The Gap

64. Meijer

70. Whole Foods Market

74. Nordstrom

78. Toys 'R Us

79. jcpenney

80. BJ's Wholesale Club

81. Bed Bath and Beyond

85. Staples

88. Southeastern Grocers (Bi-Lo Holdings)

89. L Brands (Limited Brands)

91. Ross Stores

97. Liberty Interactive Corporation (QVC)

98. Family Dollar

More 2016 World's Largest in Retailing: