The World’s Largest Retailers 2022: Pandemic Helps Amazon Cement Its Lead
Amazon has spent the last two years in hyperdrive, doubling its fulfillment network and hiring over 800,000 people in an all-out scramble to meet skyrocketing demand from housebound consumers. The reward: sales surged nearly 70% to $470 billion during the pandemic, and investors pushed its market capitalization over the trillion-dollar mark.
That helped cement its status as the world’s largest retailer and the sixth-largest company on the planet, moving up four spots on Forbes’ Global 2000 list, which ranks companies using a composite score of revenues, profits, assets and market value.
The e-commerce giant is now contending with a shift back to normal spending patterns and rising costs, however. Sales on its site slipped about 3% in its latest quarter, as shoppers make more visits to physical stores. Amazon also posted its first quarterly loss in seven years, faced with higher costs associated with labor and the supply chain.
Nipping at its heels is Walmart (No. 23), the world’s second-largest retailer, which has also ridden a tidal wave of growth during the pandemic. Sales are up about 9% since 2019, to $573 billion, as shoppers took advantage of expanded options to pick up groceries and other essentials curbside or have them delivered from a nearby store. Investors have sent shares sailing 28% higher during the pandemic, giving it a market cap of over $400 billion and making it the 14th most valuable company on the Global 2000.
Walmart continues to duke it out with Amazon for customers, and has been promoting its Walmart Plus membership program, which offers unlimited delivery, discounted gas and other perks. It has also expanded its Walmart InHome service, offering shoppers the option to have a worker unload groceries straight into their fridge.
Meanwhile, Alibaba (No. 33) continues to dominate in China. It is the third-largest retailer in the world, with revenue of $109 billion in its latest fiscal year, still a fifth of the size of Walmart. It has faced growing regulatory scrutiny and competition from tech companies like ByteDance’s Douyin and Kuaishou, which have become popular destinations for livestream shopping among Chinese consumers.
Many retailers that had been early winners during the pandemic have since fallen in the ranks. Wayfair dropped 716 spots to No. 1839, as consumers dialed back their spending on home goods. Chewy, an online pet retailer, also fell 338 spots to No. 1756. Its stock price has lost two-thirds of its value in the last twelve months as investors fear its best, go-go growth days are behind it.
Other retailers are benefiting from the return to normalcy, as consumers return to parties, concerts and conferences and want to dress the part. Macy’s, which struggled during the early days of the pandemic, has bounced back, rising 494 spots to No. 975. Sales have recovered to pre-pandemic levels, and investors have sent the stock up 80% since March 2020. Off-price chains TJX (No. 303) and Ross Stores (No. 678) have also risen sharply in the ranks, up 305 spots and 369 spots, respectively.
Here are the top 20 largest publicly traded retailers, according to Forbes’ latest rankings: