These Are the Top 50 Retailers in the World, Says NRF

MajorsMar 24, 2022

These Are the Top 50 Retailers in the World, Says NRF

The National Retail Federation shared what makes the top-ranked companies so successful.

Walmart once again took the top spot on the National Retail Federation’s “Top 50 Global Retailers” list, released Wednesday. The list ranks companies based on domestic and international revenues, and retailers must be present in at least three countries to be considered.
New York—The National Retail Federation released its list of the top 50 global retailers Wednesday, and some familiar names were at the top.

The NRF works with Kantar Retail to create the list, ranking companies based on domestic and international retail revenues. Retailers need to have direct investments in at least three countries to make the cut.

The list also shares insights on what contributed to the success of the top-ranked companies.

A U.S. retailer—Walmart—was in the top spot, raking in $538.15 billion in revenue in 2021.

The NRF has published a list of the top retailers in the world for more than 20 years, said a spokesperson, narrowing it down to 50 in 2019. Walmart has consistently been No. 1.

In 2021, Walmart leveraged its logistical advantages to attract customers of varying income levels, said the NRF.

The ability to buy across platforms appealed to higher-income shoppers who may have otherwise shopped at Amazon.

To serve lower-income customers, Walmart expanded access to online shopping by offering affordable internet access. The company partnered with AT&T in May 2021 to offer low- or no-cost internet and wireless plans as part of the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, an FCC program created to provide broadband access to those who can’t afford it as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Another U.S. retailer,, came in second place, with $330.2 billion in revenue last year.

The key to Amazon’s success has been expansion, moving into new markets in Latin America and Asia while also expanding its in-house logistics to fulfill orders quickly.

The company is bolstering its Amazon Web Services division by adding new products and services, and upping its physical store network, said the NRF.

It’s also showing off its technical know-how via its touchless “Just Walk Out” payment system available at its new Amazon Fresh stores and existing Amazon Go stores.

 Related stories will be right here … 

Schwarz Group and Aldi, two Germany-based discount grocery store companies, took the third and fourth spots.

Schwarz Group, which owns Lidl and Kaufland grocery stores, is the largest retailer in Europe and the fourth largest in the world, said the NRF, with 2021 revenue totaling $158.58 billion. 

The privately-held company is balancing store remodels in Western Europe while slowly growing its U.S. footprint, mainly in the mid-Atlantic states. 

Like Amazon, it also has invested in bolstering its fulfillment capabilities, as well as growing its online presence.

Aldi’s keys to success are a common theme in the top five: investing in online growth, bolstering logistics and store expansion.

The No. 4 company, with 2021 revenue of $134.67 billion, is the strongest retailer in Central Europe, said the NRF, and one of the fastest-growing retailers in the United States, opening stores in new regions while also setting its sights on new markets like China.

“The company continues to integrate its global sourcing, international logistics and e-commerce operations into a highly standardized model,” said the NRF.

Costco came in fifth place, with 2021 revenue totaling $187.16 billion.

The value of the company’s membership model has grabbed the attention of international middle-class shoppers, said the NRF. The high member retention rate has given the company stable funds to open new warehouses and boost its e-commerce capabilities. 

“Its low SKU count and rotating available product have worked in its favor within the tight international inventory environment. Costco is also reinvesting in services to enhance member value,” said the NRF.

The National Retail Federation also took a look at the challenges retailers faced in 2021, and how they were able to succeed in spite of those obstacles.

The apparel sector benefited from pent-up demand when malls and shopping districts reopened, but those dependent on imports faced an uphill battle trying to match 2020 levels.

A logistics slowdown, coupled with a shortage of packaging materials like plastic and aluminum, hampered food retailing.

Retailers across the board in most countries faced labor shortages, which took a toll on operating hours and service capabilities.

The inventory and labor issues were so widespread, however, that shoppers adjusted to them and continued spending, but not at the same level as 2020.

The NRF and Kantar said they are keeping an eye on the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine and its impact on global retail.

The full list of the top 50 global retailers can be found on the NRF’s website.

Lenore Fedowis the associate editor, news at National Jeweler, covering the retail beat and the business side of jewelry.

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