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2012 World's Largest U.S. Retail Companies - Biggest American Retail Chains

U.S. Retailers on Global Powers of Retailing Biggest Retailing Companies List

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Exploring Exotic Hong Kong
George Rose/Getty Images News
Updated June 25, 2014
More than 30% of the 250 largest retail companies in the world are based in the United States, according to the 2012 Global Powers of Retailing report, which is published each year by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu and STORES Magazine. Not only is the retail industry the dominant industry in the U.S., retail chains in the U.S. are aggressively working to expand their retail operations overseas and are increasingly becoming more dominant on the global retailing stage.

The U.S. companies ranked on this world’s largest list vary somewhat from the annual Fortune 500 list, which is generally focused on publicly traded U.S. retail companies. Included in this global ranking are privately-held companies, as well as government retail operations. Also, the 2012 Global Powers of Retailing report is based on 2010 revenue figures, so it lags behind the 2012 Retail Fortune 500 rankings. What the annual Global Powers reports do provide, however, is a global ranking number which provides comparative perspective on retailing's trend towards globally.

While the global ranking of the largest U.S. retail chains remains relatively unchanged from year to year, there were some significant changes in the global power of many U.S. based retail chains.
The U.S. retail chains which saw the most positive changes between the 2011 and 2012 Global Powers reports are:
  • Apple jumped up 38 positions, breaking into the top 100 and making the most positive gain of any company with significant retail operations.
  • Walgreens moved ahead of the Target Corporation to become the 9th largest retail chain in the world, and knocking Target out of the Top 10.
  • Amazon.com jumped up seven positions, to outrank Supervalu, RiteAid, and Publix.
  • Kohl's overcame jcpenney, which is significant since the two chains are considered to be in direct competition for the same customer base.
  • Dollar General moved up 6 ranking positions after generating more revenue than Dell Computer
  • The Limited jumped up 6 spots and broke into the Top 100.
  • Nordstrom jumped up 7 positions, just barely missing the top 100.
  • Casey's General Stores rose 15 positions above Wegmans and Save Mart.
  • WinCo Foods rose 17 positions, ahead of Save Mart.
None of the most dramatic negative changes that were seen on the 2012 Global Powers list are surprising to anyone who follows the U.S. retail industry. These struggling retail chains are trying to remain relevant and appealing to U.S. customers and have little or no global expansion to boost them up. The exception to that is Abercrombie and Fitch, which is opening international retail locations almost as fast as it is closing unprofitable U.S. locations. In the 2012 global rankings, this new Abercrombie & Fitch global expansion strategy caused it to lose ground on the global retailing stage.

The most significant negative changes between the 2011 and 2012 Global Powers reports are:
  • QuikTrip fell a stunning 52 positions, behind direct competitors RaceTrac and Casey's. RaceTrac itself fell 55 positions in the global rankings.
  • Hudson's Bay Trading Company dropped 23 spots.
  • Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea - fell 18 spaces out of the Top 100.
  • Winn-Dixie fell 12 positions behind Hy-Vee and The Pantry convenience stores.
  • Price Chopper fell 17 positions behind Roundy's and Stater Bros.
  • Abercrombie & Fitch fell 12 positions, and is the lowest U.S. retailer on the 2012 list.
There are also six U.S. retail chains which fell off the Global Powers list altogether. Bon-Ton, Raley's, Ingles, and Demoulas did not generate enough revenue in 2010 to retain their World's Largest status. Signet Jewelers is still on the Global Powers list, but is now a Bermuda-based company. And, of course, Blockbuster disappeared as a Global Power of Retailing, as it began dramatic downsizing in an effort to not disappear from U.S. retailing altogether.

What follows is a complete list of the U.S. retail chains that were included on the 2012 Global Powers of Retailing list. The number in the left column is the global ranking number assigned to the company, based on its sales figures, compared to other top retail organizations worldwide.

>> 2012 Largest U.S. Retail Chains List >>
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