The world’s top retailers revealed


The US National Retail Federation and Kantar have released their annual list of the top 50 global retailers, with some familiar names making the cut.
Although Australian retailers are noticeably absent from the top 50, many of the retailers represented have significant stakes down under.
So, let’s look at the leading retailers in the world when it comes to the top 10 who made that list.

The top 10 global retailers

The top 10 global retailers list reads like a who’s who of readily recognisable brands, with the USA, Germany, the Netherlands and China represented as the four countries with considerable success growing global empires well beyond their shores.
To make the cut, retailers were assessed on their direct selling in at least three countries, franchise sales where applicable, and marketplace sales and sourcing alliances.
Kantar’s Senior Vice President of Global Insights & Technology, David Marcotte, noted 2020 provided numerous challenges to retailers as they adapted to changing consumer demands and delivery methods.
“Counterintuitively for many retailers, it was the best year in their history as shoppers had a range of new needs resulting from working from home and various levels of lockdowns,” he noted.
“However, for other retailers, primarily those in malls, urban areas or in countries with strict lockdown orders, it was a year of major sales losses.”
Here’s who made the cut when it came to the global top 10…

1. Walmart (USA)

Wallmart USA

Retail type: Mass/hyper
Total revenue: $519.93 billion
Walmart’s omnichannel shift continued to pay off throughout 2020, with an expansion into marketplaces and services seeing it retain pole position, despite the fact the company shed assets in several countries.
Kantar notes its lead is shrinking, although the next top 50 will likely see it retain top position.

2. (USA)

Amazon USA

Retail type: Ecommerce
Total revenue: $280.52 billion
Amazon’s continued expansion over the past year was evident in the company’s results, with core markets like the US, Canada and Europe also performing well.

3. Schwarz Group (Germany)

Schwarz Group (Germany)

Retail type: Discount grocery
Total revenue: $133.89 billion
Kantar notes Schwarz’s grocery formats dominate retail in Europe, but as a privately held retailer, it has previously missed the global list rankings.
In recent times its discount banner Lidl has seen the company enjoy growth in markets like the US, while its online operations within existing markets have also enjoyed significant growth.

4. Aldi (Germany)


Retail type: Discount grocery
Total revenue: $116.06 billion
Building on its success in Central Europe, Aldi is now also one of the fastest-growing retailers in the US. The retailer is also expanding into markets like China, which has seen it jump from No 8 on the global retailer list last year to No 4 in 2021.

5. Alibaba (China)


Retail type: Ecommerce
Total revenue: $71.99 billion
Alibaba has enjoyed rapid expansion in recent years, transforming from a business-to-business retail model into an eCommerce giant that also has a foothold into physical stores, courtesy of Hema and Freshippo.
Kantar notes its purchase of Auchan RT-Mart’s operations in China “made it effectively the largest physical retailer in the market”.

6. Costco (USA)


Retail type: Club
Total revenue: $163.22 billion
Offering a very different retail model to others on the list, Costco has been steadily expanding outside the US in places like Canada (where it recently became the second biggest retailer), Australia and Europe.
“Having finally moved into eCommerce, it is positioned for fast growth in existing markets with its unique value proposition,” Kantar says.

7. Ahold Delhaize (Netherlands)

Ahold Delhaize (Netherlands)

Retail type: Grocery
Total revenue: $78.17 billion
Courtesy of a strong in-store experience and best-in-class online grocery capabilities, Ahold Delhaize has recently refreshed its image and is enjoying significant growth in both Europe and the US.

8. Carrefour (France)


Retail type: Mass/hyper
Total revenue: $82.60 billion
Carrefour’s recent growth has centred around additional franchises in regions like the Middle East and Africa.
“The Latin American ‘atacado’ format continues to be the retailer’s largest growth engine as smaller express stores expand in all of its existing markets,” Kantar explains.

9. IKEA (Netherlands)


Retail type: Furniture
Total revenue: $45.18 billion
With its highly unique model, IKEA has firmly cemented its position as the largest furniture retailer in the world.
In addition to its existing presence in major markets including Australia, it is now expanding into Latin America.

10. (China)

Retail type: Ecommerce
Total revenue: $82.86 billion
Kantar explains “ continues to surprise even the jaded Chinese market” through its rapid diversification and growth.
Its strengths lie in its competence and customer service, along with its strategic partnerships with retailers, including minority owner Walmart.

You can read the full list of Kantar’s top 50 global retailers here, or view Australia’s 20 coolest retailers here