The Top Global Retailers of 2021

Walmart emerged as the top global retailer of the year, according to a new global ranking from the National Retail Federation and Kantar.

2020 was a mixed bag for retailers, as some specialties took off with the demands of the Covid-19 pandemic, while others experienced major sales losses. The year may have been defined by uncertainty, but some clear consumer trends emerged, parsing out global retailers.

Walmart emerged as the top global retailer of the year, according to a new global ranking from the National Retail Federation and Kantar. With nearly $520 billion in revenue last year, shoppers clearly flocked to the retailer for the pandemic needs. Walmart stood out among its peers for its omnichannel presence, providing shoppers greater flexibilities to shop online or in-store.

Online shopping capabilities were weighted in this year’s rankings, as the methodology used by Kantar to compile its Top 50 Global Retailers needed a refresh due to the circumstances of the pandemic. In addition to sales and online marketplace presence, retailers were assessed on international revenues and “participation in franchising and alliances outside of their local region,” as well.

It makes sense that Amazon was ranked in the second spot, though it had lower international revenue than Schwarz Group, a discount grocery company based in Germany. Amazon also has the potential to become the world’s top retailer by purchasing an international retailer or another large regional marketplace outside North America, according to NRF.

Here are the top 10 global retailers and their 2020 international revenues, according to the rankings:

  1. Walmart ($120B)
  2. Amazon ($75B)
  3. Schwarz Group ($85B)
  4. Aldi ($85B)
  5. Alibaba ($23B)
  6. Costco ($44B)
  7. Ahold Delhaize ($61B)
  8. Carrefour ($43B)
  9. Ikea ($44B)
  10. ($8B)

Ranking highlights

While many of the top retailers already had their toes in diverse marketplaces and were well on their way to expanding their omnichannel capabilities well before the pandemic, other retailers just outside the top 10 are making headway to becoming even more competitive. 

“A number of retailers that fell slightly short of the Top 10 cut-off will likely challenge for a spot next year,” the report reads. “And many have become more innovative and are exploring new business models to compete in the future landscape.”

This includes Walgreens Boots Alliance (ranked No. 11), which recently welcomed its new CEO Rosalind Brewer this month. The pharmacy chain operator, as well as Home Depot (No. 15), were identified as two companies to watch as they beef up their online and in-store investments.

Also in the U.S., McDonalds (No. 33) and Starbucks (No. 40) were highlighted for their ability to “surprise the market” by introducing new store formats with more automation and integrated retail and financial technologies.

“Both have found new expansion opportunities in transit locations, corporate campuses and third-party delivery partnerships,” NRF noted.

See the full Top 50 rankings here.