50 biggest retailers in America

July 15, 2022
Sean Wandzilak // Shutterstock

50 biggest retailers in America

While most of us tend to associate shopping with the modern era (or at least, with the rise of capitalism since the Industrial Revolution) it’s actually much more antiquated than that. According to historians, the first currencies date back to 3000 B.C. and the first markets to 800 B.C., long before private ownership over the means of production was even a thought. And while, sure, those first shoppers weren’t out looking for the hottest new tech accessory or the perfect night out look, these earliest markets—and their individual retailers—are evidence that humans have been at this shopping thing for a long, long time.

In the millennia since those first stalls and stores opened their doors, shopping has obviously changed quite a bit. Gone are the days when buying and selling locally was the default. Today our economies are dominated by a few hundred singular companies that offer the same products to everyone—regardless of location, economic status, or method of payment. Additionally, huge swaths of the population now do some, or all, of their shopping online rather than in person; according to data collected by NPR in 2018, 69% of Americans reported doing a portion of their shopping online.

In light of these monumental changes, Stacker compiled a list of the 50 biggest retailers in the country using retail sales data from Kantar, provided by the National Retail Federation. Each retailer is ranked by its 2021 retail sales (data released July 6, 2022), with the number of U.S. stores serving as a tiebreaker. The U.S. headquarters location is provided, as well.

Read on to see how many of these companies you’ve shopped at!

You may also like: 25 biggest pharmaceutical companies and what they make

Chewy.com delivery box
1 / 50
JJava Designs // Shutterstock

#50. Chewy.com

- 2021 worldwide retail sales: $8.89B
- Number of U.S. stores in 2021: NA
- U.S. headquarters location: Dania Beach, Florida

In 2011, recent college graduates Ryan Cohen and Michael Day launched their online pet supply retailer, Chewy.com. Catering to millennials who treated their pets like children rather than animals, the company differentiated itself by offering 24/7 customer service. Then, in 2017, the duo sold their brand to PetSmart for a record-setting $3.35 billion.

Store front and sign of Winco Foods
2 / 50
OLOZANO // Shutterstock

#49. WinCo Foods

- 2021 worldwide retail sales: $8.92B
- Number of U.S. stores in 2021: 134
- U.S. headquarters location: Boise, Idaho

Fed up with the rising price of groceries, Ralph Ward and Bud Williams opened their own warehouse-style, discount supermarket (then called Waremart) in 1967. Now scattered around the western half of the country, all 136 WinCo Foods stores are entirely employee-owned and still offer some of the most low-cost groceries on the market.

Entrance to JCPenney department outlet
3 / 50
Andriy Blokhin // Shutterstock

#48. J.C. Penney Company

- 2021 worldwide retail sales: $8.94B
- Number of U.S. stores in 2021: 669
- U.S. headquarters location: Plano, Texas

J.C. Penney Co. operates nearly 1,000 stores across the U.S.—not bad for a company whose founder’s middle name was “Cash.” James Cash Penney was born in 1875 and founded the department store chain in 1902. In recent years, the corporation has struggled with the rise of Amazon, sudden dismissal of its CEO in 2018, and dated stores.

Burlington Coat Factory exterior
4 / 50
JHVEPhoto // Shutterstock

#47. Burlington

- 2021 worldwide retail sales: $9.34B
- Number of U.S. stores in 2021: 828
- U.S. headquarters location: Burlington, New Jersey

The Burlington brand dates back to 1924 when it began as a wholesaler of ladies coats and suits. In 1972, the first Burlington Coat Factory store opened (focusing, of course, on outerwear for the whole family), and did $1.5 million in sales that first year. As of 2020, the company had topped $8 billion in sales and has locations across the continental U.S.

Sherwin-Williams Paint Store storefront
5 / 50
JHVEPhoto // Shutterstock

#46. Sherwin-Williams

- 2021 worldwide retail sales: $10.15B
- Number of U.S. stores in 2021: 4,222
- U.S. headquarters location: Cleveland, Ohio

A true pioneer in the paint industry, Sherwin-Williams is responsible for both the first ready-mixed paint (which it began selling in 1873) and the first resealable paint can (which hit shelves in 1877). Today, the company has more than 4,400 stores selling its exclusive paint and coating options in North America and offers additional construction and home-related products in 120 countries.

You may also like: Richest women in America

6 / 50
Xnatedawgx // Wikimedia Commons

#45. Alimentation Couche-Tard

- 2021 worldwide retail sales: $10.27B
- Number of U.S. stores in 2021: 7,076
- U.S. headquarters location: Tempe, Arizona

Alimentation Couche-Tard operates thousands of convenience stores in the U.S. under the brands Corner Store, Circle K, Holiday, and Kangaroo Express, with more stores in Canada, Europe, Mexico, Japan, China, and Indonesia. The French name translates to “night-owl food.”

Giant Eagle Grocery Store exterior
7 / 50
Eric Glenn // Shutterstock

#44. Giant Eagle

- 2021 worldwide retail sales: $10.43B
- Number of U.S. stores in 2021: 476
- U.S. headquarters location: O’Hara Township, Pennsylvania

Five Pittsburgh-area families opened the first Giant Eagle grocery store in 1931. Impressively, they managed to continue to grow the chain throughout the Great Depression and World War II, and there are now more than 400 stores scattered throughout Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, and Indiana. According to the company’s website, these stores do about $8.9 billion in annual sales.

Homepage of QVC website
8 / 50
Sharaf Maksumov // Shutterstock

#43. Qurate Retail

- 2021 worldwide retail sales: $10.97B
- Number of U.S. stores in 2021: NA
- U.S. headquarters location: Englewood, Colorado

Formerly known as Liberty Interactive, Qurate is a media conglomerate that has been run by chairman John C. “Cable Cowboy” Malone since 1998. The corporation is best known for QVC and HSN, TV channels that sell products to viewers.

Wegmans Grocery Store exterior
9 / 50
tarheel1776 // Shutterstock

#42. Wegmans Food Market

- 2021 worldwide retail sales: $11.23B
- Number of U.S. stores in 2021: 106
- U.S. headquarters location: Rochester, New York

Two brothers, Walter and John Wegman, opened their first store, the Rochester Fruit & Vegetable Company (the predecessor to Wegmans), in 1916. In the century since, the grocery store chain has expanded throughout much of the Northeast, now running more than 100 stores in seven states. The family-owned operation has consistently been headed by a Wegman and maintains a reputation of caring for its employees through exceptional benefits.

10 / 50
Bildflut // Wikimedia Commons

#41. Health Mart Systems

- 2021 worldwide retail sales: $11.23B
- Number of U.S. stores in 2021: 4,763
- U.S. headquarters location: Omaha, Nebraska

Health Mart Systems is a network of nearly 5,000 brick-and-mortar pharmacies across the country and is a subsidiary of McKesson Corp., a large pharmaceutical company. It’s the nation’s fastest-growing pharmacy franchise and came in second to Good Neighbor Pharmacy in a customer satisfaction survey conducted by J.D. Power.

You may also like: States where food stamps are used the most

Wayfair Distribution Center
11 / 50
Jonathan Weiss // Shutterstock

#40. Wayfair

- 2021 worldwide retail sales: $11.25B
- Number of U.S. stores in 2021: NA
- U.S. headquarters location: Boston, Massachusetts

From a spare bedroom and on a shoestring budget, business partners Steve Conine and Niraj Shah launched their first e-commerce site (which sold stereo racks and stands) back in 2002. By 2011, the duo had hundreds of stand-alone e-commerce sites selling all sorts of housewares, which they eventually merged into a single site called Wayfair. Today, the company employs more than 16,000 people who work to sell some 22 million home products across all of Wayfair’s brands.

Hy-Vee gas station store exterior
12 / 50
Ken Wolter // Shutterstock

#39. Hy-Vee

- 2021 worldwide retail sales: $12.02B
- Number of U.S. stores in 2021: 309
- U.S. headquarters location: West Des Moines, Iowa

The second supermarket chain on this list, Hy-Vee caters to the Midwest, operating in Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. A contraction of the last names of its founders Charles Hyde and David Vredenburg, Hy-Vee has been employee-owned since 1960, when the company established the Employees’ Trust Fund.

Dick's Sporting Goods retail location
13 / 50
Jonathan Weiss // Shutterstock

#38. Dick’s Sporting Goods

- 2021 worldwide retail sales: $12.03B
- Number of U.S. stores in 2021: 848
- U.S. headquarters location: Coraopolis, Pennsylvania

Tired of being undervalued at his job, 18-year-old Dick Stack took a $300 loan from his grandmother and opened his first fishing tackle shop in Binghamton, New York in 1948. Three decades later, he expanded his offerings, selling equipment for all kinds of athletic and physical endeavors, and renamed his business Dick’s Sporting Goods. Now, with locations all over the country and its headquarters up north, Dick’s has some 50,000 employees working to make your sporting dreams a reality.

Exterior of a AutoZone Retail Store
14 / 50
Jonathan Weiss // Shutterstock

#37. AutoZone

- 2021 worldwide retail sales: $12.41B
- Number of U.S. stores in 2021: 6,001
- U.S. headquarters location: Memphis, Tennessee

Though its headquarters are located in Memphis, AutoZone operates more than 6,000 stores across the U.S., Mexico, and Brazil, selling aftermarket car parts and accessories. Under the leadership of William C. Rhodes III, CEO and president since 2005 and chairman since 2007, AutoZone’s stock has increased more than 100%.

A view of building front sign for Tractor Supply Co
15 / 50
The Image Party // Shutterstock

#36. Tractor Supply Co.

- 2021 worldwide retail sales: $12.64B
- Number of U.S. stores in 2021: 2,181
- U.S. headquarters location: Brentwood, Tennessee

Charles E. Schmidt founded Tractor Supply Co. as a mail order tractor parts business in 1938. By 2022, that publicly-traded company has grown into the largest retail farm store in North America. Much of that growth is due to the business selling all sorts of farming and ranching equipment, including apparel, animal feed, and hand tools.

You may also like: The industries where workers are quitting their jobs in droves

16 / 50
5Ohms // Shutterstock

#35. O’Reilly Auto Parts

- 2021 worldwide retail sales: $12.88B
- Number of U.S. stores in 2021: 5,759
- U.S. headquarters location: Springfield, Missouri

O’Reilly is the product of Charles F. O’Reilly—the son of an Irish immigrant who left Ireland in the aftermath of the potato famine—and his son Charles H. O’Reilly. From one store in 1957, O’Reilly Auto Parts now sells aftermarket car parts in over 5,000 stores in 47 states. Under the leadership of CEO and co-president Greg Johnson, O’Reilly’s acquired Mexican auto parts chain Mayasa in 2019.

A Menards Home Improvement store
17 / 50
Jonathan Weiss // Shutterstock

#34. Menards

- 2021 worldwide retail sales: $13.14B
- Number of U.S. stores in 2021: 328
- U.S. headquarters location: Eau Claire, Wisconsin

Founded by John Menard Jr. in 1960, Menard Inc. now operates over 300 Menards home-improvement stores across the Midwest, making it the third-largest such chain in the United States. In 2018, it ranked #1 in J.D. Power’s survey of customer satisfaction for home-improvement retailers.

18 / 50
Michael Gordon // Shutterstock

#33. Nordstrom

- 2021 worldwide retail sales: $13.74B
- Number of U.S. stores in 2021: 345
- U.S. headquarters location: Seattle, Washington

What originally began as a shoe store in 1901 evolved into the high-end department store today known as Nordstrom. Operating stores across the U.S., Puerto Rico, and Canada, Nordstrom is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol JWN, after its founder John W. Nordstrom. After acquiring e-commerce clothing subscription service Trunk Club in 2014, Nordstrom disclosed in June 2022 that it had shuttered the personalized clothing service—a possible sign that shoppers would rather try on clothes in-store.

19 / 50
Sorbis // Shutterstock

#32. Gap

- 2021 worldwide retail sales: $13.92B
- Number of U.S. stores in 2021: 2,147
- U.S. headquarters location: San Francisco, California

Founded by Donald Fisher and his wife Doris—who named the company after the generation gap—in 1969, Gap Inc. is known for its variety of clothing across six divisions: Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Athleta, Intermix, and Hill City. Over its more than 50 years of operation, Gap has grown to 135,000 employees worldwide and in February 2019 its brand Old Navy was spun off into an independent company.

Dell Technologies Exposition Stand at an exhibition
20 / 50
Lutsenko_Oleksandr // Shutterstock

#31. Dell Technologies

- 2021 worldwide retail sales: $14.03B
- Number of U.S. stores in 2021: NA
- U.S. headquarters location: Round Rock, Texas

In 1984, Michael Dell, a student at the University of Texas, founded his computer and technologies company in his dorm room. With just $1,000 in hand, he had a vision about how computers should be designed and sold. The gamble paid off, and now Dell is a multinational company that has capitalized on the brave new world of hybrid work.

You may also like: States with the most farmland

Exterior of BJ's Wholesale Club
21 / 50
Helen89 // Shutterstock

#30. BJ’s Wholesale Club

- 2021 worldwide retail sales: $16.67B
- Number of U.S. stores in 2021: 226
- U.S. headquarters location: Westborough, Massachusetts

Named after Beverly Jean Weich—the daughter of its president Mervyn Weich—BJ’s was established by the defunct discount store chain Zayre in 1984, and now operates stores throughout the East Coast and in Ohio. The smaller of the two members-only discount retailers on this list, BJ’s went public for the second time in the summer of 2018 after previously going private in 2011.

22 / 50
Roman Tiraspolsky // Shutterstock

#29. Rite Aid

- 2021 worldwide retail sales: $17.49B
- Number of U.S. stores in 2021: 2,517
- U.S. headquarters location: Camp Hill, Pennsylvania

Founded in Scranton, Pennsylvania, in 1962 under the name “Thrift D Discount Center,” Rite Aid went public under its current name in 1968. Rite Aid was almost purchased by Walgreens in 2015, but because of antitrust issues only around half of stores were eventually sold to Walgreens in March 2018.

23 / 50
John Arehart // Wikimedia Commons

#28. Wakefern / ShopRite

- 2021 worldwide retail sales: $17.86B
- Number of U.S. stores in 2021: 361
- U.S. headquarters location: Keasbey, New Jersey

Hy-Vee, you may recall, was named after the combination of its two founders’ names. Wakefern is similarly a portmanteau, but of six founders: W for Louis Weiss, A for Sam and Al Aidekman, K for Abe Kesselman, E for Leo Eisenberg, and FERN for Dave Fern. The stores have gone by the name ShopRite since 1951 (five years after the group’s founding), but Wakefern is the nation’s largest supermarket group, consisting of 50 member companies operating 362 stores.

Kohl's store entrance
24 / 50
Sundry Photography // Shutterstock

#27. Kohl’s

- 2021 worldwide retail sales: $18.5B
- Number of U.S. stores in 2021: 1,177
- U.S. headquarters location: Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin

Polish immigrant Maxwell Kohl’s first grocery store (and later, department stores) was founded in 1927, though it was 65 years until the company went public in 1992, long after the Kohl family left the company. Operating department stores in every U.S. state except Hawaii, Kohl’s began accepting Amazon returns in its stores in 2019, which the company hoped will drive sales.

25 / 50
Thayne Tuason // Wikimedia Commons

#26. Ross Stores

- 2021 worldwide retail sales: $18.89B
- Number of U.S. stores in 2021: 1,923
- U.S. headquarters location: Dublin, California

Ross Stores is the company behind Ross Dress For Less, a chain of discount department stores headquartered outside the Bay Area, near where the first store opened in 1950 by Morris Ross. Though he sold the store eight years later, the nearly 2,000 U.S. locations still bear his name.

You may also like: 50 women who broke barriers in the business world

A full-service store for Verizon Wireless
26 / 50
Tada Images // Shutterstock

#25. Verizon

- 2021 worldwide retail sales: $19.78B
- Number of U.S. stores in 2021: 6,217
- U.S. headquarters location: New York, New York

A portmanteau of veritas (Latin for “truth”) and horizon, Verizon was born from the breakup of AT&T’s Bell Companies in 1984. Verizon is the second-biggest telecommunications provider in the U.S., just behind AT&T.

27 / 50
Librarian 1974 // Wikimedia Commons

#24. Meijer

- 2021 worldwide retail sales: $20.06B
- Number of U.S. stores in 2021: 260
- U.S. headquarters location: Grand Rapids, Michigan

Meijer is a Midwestern supermarket chain operating 253 stores across Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Named for its founding family, Meijer has been recognized for its environmental friendliness and focus on diversity and inclusion when hiring staff.

AT&T store in Philadelphia
28 / 50
Helen89 // Shutterstock

#23. AT&T Wireless

- 2021 worldwide retail sales: $20.66B
- Number of U.S. stores in 2021: 1,580
- U.S. headquarters location: Dallas, Texas

AT&T is generally known as the world’s largest telecommunications company, along with being the parent company of WarnerMedia, the world’s largest media company based on revenues. However, the company also operates thousands of retail stores across the U.S., and is even developing 5G-equipped robots that would work to increase productivity in its stores.

Seven Eleven Store on sunny day
29 / 50
Unidas.ME // Shutterstock

#22. 7-Eleven

- 2021 worldwide retail sales: $23.84B
- Number of U.S. stores in 2021: 12,689
- U.S. headquarters location: Dallas, Texas

Originally named “Tote’m Stores” at the time of its founding in 1927, the chain changed to its current name in 1946 to represent its hours of operation from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day of the week, though most locations now are open 24 hours.

Historic Macy's Herald Square at 34th Street
30 / 50
pio3 // Shutterstock

#21. Macy’s

- 2021 worldwide retail sales: $24.23B
- Number of U.S. stores in 2021: 730
- U.S. headquarters location: New York, New York

Though Macy’s flagship store in New York City no longer holds the title of the largest department store in the world, it’s still the largest in the United States, with 1.1 million square feet of retail space. Macy’s dates back to 1851, when Rowland Hussey Macy opened the first Macy’s store in Massachusetts.

You may also like: States with the largest unionized workforces

Ace hardware store exterior and sign
31 / 50
Ken Wolter // Shutterstock

#20. Ace Hardware

- 2021 worldwide retail sales: $24.67B
- Number of U.S. stores in 2021: 4,807
- U.S. headquarters location: Oak Brook, Illinois

Named for the tenacity of World War I fighter pilots, Ace Hardware was founded in 1924 after four hardware store owners in the Chicago area combined their businesses into “Ace Stores.” Today, Ace Hardware is the largest non-grocery cooperative in the U.S., and the largest hardware retail cooperative worldwide. In 2022, it received the J.D. Power award for “Highest in Customer Satisfaction with Home Improvement Retail Stores” for the 15th time in 16 years.

Exterior and sign of a Dollar Tree Discount Store
32 / 50
Jonathan Weiss // Shutterstock

#19. Dollar Tree

- 2021 worldwide retail sales: $25.93B
- Number of U.S. stores in 2021: 15,857
- U.S. headquarters location: Chesapeake, Virgina

Dollar Tree Stores Inc. is a nationwide chain of discount stores, many of them offering every item for $1 before tax. Operating stores under the brands Dollar Tree, Dollar Bills, and Family Dollar, Dollar Tree came under fire in 2021 when it announced that prices for most items would rise to $1.25.

Closeup of H-E-B supermarket store sign
33 / 50
JHVEPhoto // Shutterstock

#18. H.E. Butt Grocery

- 2021 worldwide retail sales: $31B
- Number of U.S. stores in 2021: 345
- U.S. headquarters location: San Antonio, Texas

If you’ve never been to Texas, odds are you’ve never heard of H-E-B, though the supermarket chain is beloved—it’s been called the “cultiest cult grocer in America.” The company was founded by the Butt family in 1905.

Exterior of a Dollar General retail location
34 / 50
Jonathan Weiss // Shutterstock

#17. Dollar General

- 2021 worldwide retail sales: $34.23B
- Number of U.S. stores in 2021: 18,378
- U.S. headquarters location: Goodlettsville, Tennessee

Dollar General operates a network of discount variety stores across the country, and has been called “rural America’s store of choice” by The Wall Street Journal. Like Dollar Tree, Dollar General targets low-income and rural areas for its stores, serving customers who have been passed over by other major retailers.

The exterior of an Aldi grocery store
35 / 50
Joni Hanebutt // Shutterstock

#16. Aldi

- 2021 worldwide retail sales: $37.01B
- Number of U.S. stores in 2021: 2,697
- U.S. headquarters location: Batavia, Illinois

Aldi is a German-based discount supermarket chain founded by two brothers, Karl and Theo Albrecht, in 1946; the name comes from a concatenation of “Albrecht” and the German word for “discount.” Following a spat over cigarette sales, the company split in two: one brother got the north with Aldi Nord, and the other got the south with Aldi Sür. Though Aldi Sür operates the Aldi stores in the U.S., it’s Aldi Nord that acquired Trader Joe’s in 1979.

You may also like: The cost of gasoline the year you started driving

T.J. Maxx retail store exterior
36 / 50
Jonathan Weiss // Shutterstock

#15. TJX Companies

- 2021 worldwide retail sales: $38.08B
- Number of U.S. stores in 2021: 3,345
- U.S. headquarters location: Framingham, Massachusetts

Founded in 1976, TJX Companies now operates several discount-oriented stores, including TJ Maxx, HomeGoods, HomeSense, Marshalls, and Sierra. While other discount retailers like Ross Stores and Burlington continue to see slowing sales growth, TJX Companies are enjoying newfound popularity as traditional department stores lose favor in the eyes of the consumer.

37 / 50
Michael Gordon // Shutterstock

#14. Best Buy

- 2021 worldwide retail sales: $47.76B
- Number of U.S. stores in 2021: 957
- U.S. headquarters location: Richfield, Minnesota

Founded as Sound of Music, an audio equipment store by Richard M. Schulze and James Wheeler in 1966, Best Buy got its current name after a rebranding in 1983. Since then, it has become the largest consumer electronics retailer in the U.S., and has even fended off Amazon with shrewd strategy, including a price-matching promise.

Exterior view of one Publix Super Markets
38 / 50
JHVEPhoto // Shutterstock

#13. Publix Super Markets

- 2021 worldwide retail sales: $48B
- Number of U.S. stores in 2021: 1,598
- U.S. headquarters location: Lakeland, Florida

Publix ranks among the top regional grocery store chains, with stores operating in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Virginia. The supermarket company continually ranks on Fortune’s Best Companies To Work For list, and is publicly owned by current and former employees and the family of founder George W. Jenkins.

Food Lion supermarket entrance during the day
39 / 50
Alejandro Guzmani // Shutterstock

#12. Royal Ahold Delhaize USA

- 2021 worldwide retail sales: $53.66B
- Number of U.S. stores in 2021: 2,056
- U.S. headquarters location: Carlisle, Pennsylvania

Ahold Delhaize is a grocery store company based in the Netherlands and operates stores across Europe and the U.S. If that name doesn’t sound familiar, its main U.S. holdings are Stop & Shop, Giant Food, Hannaford, and Food Lion. The company launched Peapod, a grocery delivery service and early startup of the internet age in 1996, though it now faces competition from Amazon Fresh and Instacart.

Apple store located in a shopping center
40 / 50
Akhenaton Images // Shutterstock

#11. Apple Stores / iTunes

- 2021 worldwide retail sales: $64.84B
- Number of U.S. stores in 2021: 272
- U.S. headquarters location: Cupertino, California

Out of all the companies on this list, it’s likely that Apple places the most thought into the design, layout, and location of its retail storefronts, which often have iconic designs like Apple’s glass box Fifth Avenue store in New York City. Apple Stores now offer—along with traditional retail and “Genius Bar” customer service—classes to learn how to use Apple products better, from iPhone cameras to professional video editing software.

You may also like: Most popular department stores in America

41 / 50
ccpixx photography // Shutterstock

#10. Albertsons Companies

- 2021 worldwide retail sales: $71.87B
- Number of U.S. stores in 2021: 2,320
- U.S. headquarters location: Boise, Idaho

Albertsons was established in 1939 by Joe Albertson in Boise, Idaho. Albertsons stores now span the United States, with notable subsidiaries including Safeway, which merged with the company in 2015; Acme Markets; Tom Thumb; and several others. After a planned acquisition of Rite Aid fell through in 2018, Albertsons went public in June 2020 after several past attempts to do so failed.

42 / 50
Ken Wolter // Shutterstock

#9. Lowe’s Companies

- 2021 worldwide retail sales: $87.73B
- Number of U.S. stores in 2021: 1,737
- U.S. headquarters location: Mooresville, North Carolina

Not to be confused with Loews (a movie theater chain) or the other Loews (a hotel chain), Lowe’s is a home-improvement chain headquartered in Mooresville, North Carolina—located about an hour’s drive from the original Lowe’s North Wilkesboro Hardware store, which was opened in 1921 by Lucius Smith Lowe. The chain suffered in the 1980s from competition with longtime rival The Home Depot, which surpassed Lowe’s as the largest hardware retailer in 1989.

43 / 50
Jonathan Weiss // Shutterstock

#8. CVS Health Corporation

- 2021 worldwide retail sales: $93.36B
- Number of U.S. stores in 2021: 9,773
- U.S. headquarters location: Woonsocket, Rhode Island

CVS, which stands for “consumer value stores,” was founded by brothers Stanley and Sidney Goldstein and Ralph Hoagland in 1963. Since then, the company has expanded its franchises of health, beauty, and pharmacy stores across the country. The corporation went public in 1996 and in 2018 acquired health insurance giant Aetna.

44 / 50
Sean Wandzilak / Shutterstock

#7. Target

- 2021 worldwide retail sales: $104.62B
- Number of U.S. stores in 2021: 1,926
- U.S. headquarters location: Minneapolis, Minnesota

The first Target store opened in Roseville, Minnesota, in 1962, a subsidiary of the Dayton Co. founded by George Dayton. In 2002, the parent company was rebranded as the Target Corp. as other subsidiaries were shed. Target is one of many retailers that have started fighting back against Amazon’s dominant Prime Day sale.

Walgreens store exterior and sign
45 / 50
Ken Wolter // Shutterstock

#6. Walgreens Boots Alliance

- 2021 worldwide retail sales: $108.34B
- Number of U.S. stores in 2021: 8,600
- U.S. headquarters location: Deerfield, Illinois

The “Boots” in “Walgreens Boots Alliance” refers to a major pharmacy chain in the United Kingdom and Ireland; in the United States, the company operates Walgreens and Duane Reade retail pharmacy stores. Walgreens began in 1901 as a single Chicago store run by Charles R. Walgreen. The company announced in 2019 it would close 200 Walgreens stores in the United States, or less than 3% of its locations.

You may also like: This is what really happens to retail food waste

46 / 50
Kristi Blokhin // Shutterstock

#5. The Kroger Co.

- 2021 worldwide retail sales: $136.49B
- Number of U.S. stores in 2021: 2,874
- U.S. headquarters location: Cincinnati, Ohio

Kroger is the largest supermarket chain in the United States by revenue, operating nearly 3,000 stores spanning 35 Midwestern and Southern states, as well as Washington D.C. Bernard Kroger opened his first store in 1883, making Kroger one of the oldest companies on this list. 

47 / 50
Fastily // Wikimedia Commons

#4. The Home Depot

- 2021 worldwide retail sales: $140.06B
- Number of U.S. stores in 2021: 1,993
- U.S. headquarters location: Atlanta, Georgia

The Home Depot is the leading home improvement retail chain in America. Operating stores in the U.S., Puerto Rico, Canada, and Mexico, The Home Depot passed Lowe’s to become the biggest home improvement store in the country in 1989—eight years after going public.

48 / 50
Stu pendousmat // Wikicommons

#3. Costco Wholesale

- 2021 worldwide retail sales: $140.41B
- Number of U.S. stores in 2021: 561
- U.S. headquarters location: Issaquah, Washington

Founded in 1973 by Sol Price and his son Robert after a merger with Price Club, Costco Wholesale is the fifth-largest retailer worldwide as of 2020. Despite the recent spike in inflation, the membership-only retailer’s CEO has adamantly stated that it won’t increase the price of its iconic $1.50 hot dog.

49 / 50
Hadrian // Shutterstock

#2. Amazon.com

- 2021 worldwide retail sales: $217.79B
- Number of U.S. stores in 2021: 557
- U.S. headquarters location: Seattle, Washington

Amazon has a particularly fascinating relationship with the average American; while many Americans shop at stores on this list, only at Amazon are 59% of U.S. households paying members (as of 2019). That Amazon Prime membership translates to free two-day shipping, free video streaming, and featured member deals. Amazon’s business also extends to the invisible: Much of the internet runs on Amazon Web Services servers.

People shopping at a Walmart store in south San Francisco
50 / 50
Sundry Photography // Shutterstock

#1. Walmart

- 2021 worldwide retail sales: $459.51B
- Number of U.S. stores in 2021: 5,326
- U.S. headquarters location: Bentonville, Arkansas

Amazon has income streams from its web services division, but its retail sales are dwarfed by Walmart. The world’s largest company by revenues, the world’s largest private employer, and the largest grocery retailer in the U.S., Walmart operates under 46 names in 24 countries.

You may also like: Most popular grocery stores in America

Trending Now