Is Wal-Mart Too Big to Fail?

Dollars & Details:

Globally, retailing is one of the world’s largest employers, including 16 million workers in the U.S. alone.  Official retail numbers can be confusing, however, because the official government count ($5.5 trillion revenues in the U.S. alone) includes car and gasoline sales.  A better indicator is the GAFO category (general merchandise, apparel, furniture and miscellaneous stores) at $1.3 trillion yearly, and food/beverage stores at $700 billion (U.S. numbers).

Trends and Theories:

Retailing is under attack by the convenience and everyday low prices offered by ecommerce.  Mall traffic is down and department stores are closing locations, while consumers click to buy from home.  This trend is irreversible, and the retail chains of the future will be smaller than today, both in store size and in total store count. 

Ranks and Results

Top Retailers:  (estimated fiscal 2016 sales, billions of $US)

Wal-Mart                      $482 bil

CVS                             $160 bil

Costco                         $119 bil.

Kroger                         $110 bil.

Walgreens Boots         $117 bil.

Carrefour                     $85 bil.

Home Depot                $88 bil.

Tesco                          $67 bil.

ALDO Group                $74 bil.

Target                          $74 bil.

AEON Co                     $74 bil.

While Wal-Mart is the world’s largest retailer by far, its revenues are under pressure, falling by $3 billion during 2016.  (Wal-Mart is about 3 ½ times larger than online giant  Wal-Mart’s key strategies include everyday low prices and massive, high-quality grocery departments that boost traffic.  Weekly store visits total 260 million shoppers, served by 2.3 million employees.  Meanwhile, Wal-Mart is investing intensely in increasing its own online sales, including its acquisition of Amazon competitor


All the information you need about this business can be found at Plunkett Research, including our retail research center online, and our just-published, completely-updated 2017 edition Plunkett’s Retail Industry Almanac.  See