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Top 100 Retailers, 2021 Edition

Walmart took the top position again this year, but Amazon is quickly closing the gap and looks poised to overtake the retail giant. See who joined these two heavy hitters on the list of retail’s most successful.
Tim Denman
Editor in Chief
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The past year has been a challenge for the retail industry, but retail’s heaviest hitters have not only survived the massive COVID headwind but have turned it into an opportunity. While mom and pops and mall-based retailers have struggled to keep the lights on, the industry’s mega players like Walmart and Amazon have seen their bottom-line swell.

For the fourth consecutive year RIS in partnership with wRatings has ranked the industry’s most lucrative organizations. While other lists rank retailers on total revenue, profit, or even share price — this annual list takes a different approach. The retailers that make our Top 100 are ranked on their piece of the total retail market.

Our research partner, Gary A. Williams, CEO, wRatings examined more than 300 publicly traded global retailers and calculated their share of the retail market. For this ranking, the retail market is the sum of the revenue for all the retailers examined, valued at around $3.9 trillion, an increase of nearly $600 billion over last year’s total market share.  

The full listing of 100 retailers can he viewed here. Below is a look at the top 5 finishers.

#1 Walmart

For the fourth year in a row Walmart tops this ranking, with 14% of the retail market. While 14% of the market is a massive number – equating to around $556 billion in sales — making the big boxer the envy of the retail industry, it marks a continued decline in Walmart’s retail dominance. When we first started tracking these numbers four years ago, Walmart owned 16.9% of the market, which dropped to 16.1% last year, and saw another significant drop this year. In fact, Edge by Ascential's research division, Retail Insight, reported this week that as early as 2025 Amazon could surpass Walmart as the biggest retailer in the world. While Walmart and its biggest competitor both benefited from COVID- induced retail shutdowns, it appears that Amazon is going to be the one to emerge victorious as shoppers continue to embrace the Amazon experience in droves.  

#2 Amazon

The number two retailer in the world — for now — Amazon increased its market share to 9.7%, representing $386 billion in sales. Having nearly 10% of the almost $4 trillion retail market is beyond impressive, but the meteoric success of Amazon really shines when you compare it to peers in the e-commerce space. Among the public companies examined for this ranking Amazon owns more than a third (37.3%) of the e-commerce market. Interestingly, when we compare Amazon to Walmart on a profit basis, the online giant dwarfs its biggest competitor, racking up $178 billion in profit, compared to Walmart’s $129 billion.

#3 CVS Health

CVS Health took third in the ranking this year, with 6.7% of the total retail market. Profit-wise the massive retail pharmacy chains reports more than $102 billion in profit against $268 billion in sales. For the purposes of this research CVS was placed in the department store segment (there is no pharmacy breakout) and as a ‘department store’ CVS captured more than 18% of the total segment.

#4 Costco Wholesale

For the third consecutive year Costco took home the fourth position in this annual ranking. It pulled in $178 billion over the past year, while placing $21 billion of its cash flow into the profit column. Its total share of the retail universe is 4.5%, while capturing 12.3% of the ‘department store’ segment.

#5 Walgreens Boots Alliance

Walgreens rounds out the top 5 this year joining rival CVS among retails’ financially elite. It tallied sales of $141 billion over the past year, with profits higher than fourth-place finisher Costco at $29 billion. Walgreens captured 3.5% of the total retail market.


The financial metrics of more than 300 publicly traded retailers were examined. The economic data is from a 12-month period ending on March 31, 2021. The percent of retail market share was calculated against a total retail market of around $3.9 trillion. The research ranked retailers across the specialty, apparel, department store, grocery and e-commerce segments.


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