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The Top 20 Highest-Grossing Retailers and Their Real Estate Power

    The Top 20 Highest-Grossing Retailers and Their Real Estate Power

    The retail industry reported its highest inventory levels relative to sales since the end of 2013, according to a UBS analyst note this week. The department store slump is caused by retail's slow adjustment to e-commerce, leading to sluggish in-store traffic. To combat the online threats, big retailers like Macy's and Nordstrom are leveraging their real estate with new distribution centers, warehouses and overall accessibility. Here's the breakdown of the top 20 highest-grossing US chain retailers ranked by the NRF and their retail strategies.

    1. Wal-Mart Stores

    Chain: Wal-Mart

    Location: Bentonville, AR 72712

    US Retail Sales: $343B

    US Sales Growth: 2.8%

    US Stores: 5,109

    With a market cap of $261B, it's no wonder that over 11,000 units of this neighborhood staple exist worldwide. The merchandising giant also saves money and lives better by paying rent to a REIT that's 99% owned by another Wal-Mart subsidiary in order to earn tax breaks.

    2. Kroger Co

    Chain: Kroger

    Location: Cincinnati

    US Retail Sales: $103B

    US Sales Growth: 10.1%

    US Stores: 3730

    Kroger is projected to beat Whole Foods as the organic go-to seller in two years, Business Insider reports. The brand is expanding fast; last year, it bought North Carolina-based Harris Teeter Supermarkets for $2.5B. This year, Kroger is eyeing Floridian company Bi-Lo Holdings, according to the Tampa Bay Business Journal.

    3. Costco

    Chain: Costco

    Location: Issaquah, WA

    US Retail Sales: $79B

    US Sales Growth: 6.6%

    US Stores: 464

    This membership wholesale retailer operates throughout Asia, North America, Australia and the UK. It makes sense that in 2014, the company owned 663 warehouses worldwide.

    4. The Home Depot

    Chain: The Home Depot

    Location: Atlanta

    US Retail Sales: $74B

    US Sales Growth: 3.6%

    US Stores: 1,965

    The popular home improvement retailer for both homeowners and professionals earned a market cap of $149.2B for May 2015. The company’s net property and equipment was recorded at $22B in February 2015.

    5. Walgreens

    Chain: Walgreens

    Location: Deerfield, IL

    US Retail Sales: $72B

    US Sales Growth: 5.8%

    US Stores: 8,157

    This drugstore chain serves 6.2 million customers per day, with average annual sales revenue of $8.5M per store. It’s no surprise that the giant was able to invest $1.1B into property and equipment in 2014.

    6. Target

    Chain: Target

    Location: Minneapolis

    US Retail Sales: $72B

    US Sales Growth: 1.9%

    US Stores: 1,790

    This general merchandise chain regards itself as an upscale discount store, and has mastered the power of branding, allowing it to have almost 2,000 stores in North America—good for net of $25B for property and equipment.

    7. CVS Caremark

    Chain : CVS

    Location: Woonsocket, RI

    US Retail Sales: $67B

    US Sales Growth: 3.6%

    US Stores: 7,808

    The drugstore company accounted for 22.6% of the nation’s total prescription revenues in 2013. But at the end of last year, CVS owned only 5% of its 7,800 stores.

    8. Lowe's Co

    Chain: Lowe's

    Location: Mooresville, NC

    US Retail Sales: $54B

    US Sales Growth: 5.1%

    Lowe’s gross profit margin has improved by .52% from 2014 to 2015. To stay on top of the retail game, Lowe's is entering the urban market, with its first Manhattan store opening in August 2015.



    Location: Seattle

    US Retail Sales:$49B

    US Sales Growth: 22.6%

    US Stores: Wherever there's an Internet connection.

    Amazon’s on fire. So is its storage. An online retailer, the Seattle giant has amassed over 90 warehouses to help accomplish its impressive customer service. The retail king is predicted to outgrow Macy’s by 2017.

    10. Safeway

    Chain: Safeway

    Location: Pleasanton, CA

    US Retail Sales: $36B

    US Sales Growth: -2.1%

    US Stores: 1,326

    The American grocerer opened in 1915, and just last year it sold $830M worth of real estate assets from its subsidiary to Terramar Retail Centers.



    11. Best Buy

    Chain: Best Buy

    Location: Richfield, MN

    US Retail Sales: $35B

    US Sales Growth: 0.1%

    US Stores: 1445

    Best Buy is considered to be one of the leading e-retailers, having generated almost $3B through online sales in 2012. Still, the company managed to build a store within 15 minutes of 70% of North America’s population.


    12. McDonald's

    Chain: McDonald's

    Location: Oak Brook, IL

    US Retail Sales: $35B 

    US Sales Growth: -1.1%

    US Stores: 14,350

    With over 36,000 locations worldwide, McDonald’s is without a doubt the leading global food retailer. But it’s also one of the biggest global real estate companies, and owned $28.4B of land and buildings in February 2015.  


    13. Publix Super Markets

    Chain: Publix

    Location: Lakeland, FL

    US Retail Sales: $30B

    US Sales Growth: 5.7%

    US Stores: 1,296

    Starting in Florida, Publix Super Markets was founded in 1921. The grocery store chain has been buying up the shopping centers of their stores, having set aside $1.3B to purchase six this year.


    14. Apple

    Chain: Apple Store/ iTunes

    Location: Cupertino, CA

    US Retail Sales: $28B

    US Sales Growth: 6.5%

    US Stores: 259

    Over 100 billion apps have been downloaded from the App Store since its 2008 launch. Unknown to many, Apple just purchased 43 Californian acres for more than $138M for its new HQ.




    15. Macy's

    Chain: Macy's

    Location: Cincinnati

    US Retail Sales: $28

    US Sales Growth: 0.6%

    US Stores: 821

    With more than 800 stores in operation since its founding in 1851, Macy’s is a tried and true fashion retailer. Investment adviser Starboard Value estimates Macy’s to be sitting on $21B worth of real estate, including its historical New York flagship.




    16. Rite Aid

    Chain: Rite Aid

    Location: Camp Hill, PA 

    US Retail Sales: $26B

    US Sales Growth: 3.9%

    US Stores: 4,570


    Rite Aid is the third-largest drugstore retailer in the country. Rite Aid is in the midst of closing down and revamping stores to improve wellness services—1,600 stores have seen the transformation so far.   



    17. Royal Ahold/ Ahold USA

    Chain: Stop & Shop, Giant Food, Giant Food Stores, Martin’s Food Markets, Peapod

    Location: Carlisle, PA

    US Retail Sales: $25B

    US Sales Growth: -0.5%

    US Stores: 768

    Ahold operates three American grocery chains on the East Coast, as well as Peapod, the largest online grocery delivery service. Ahold purchased Delhaize Group, which owns Food Lion, for $10.4B to then possess over 6,500 stores in both the US and across Europe.


    18. Sears Holding

    Chain: Sears, Kmart

    Location: Hoffman Estates, IL

    US Retail Sales: $25B

    US Sales Growth: -11.8%

    US Stores: 1659

    Despite being a long-standing general merchandising retailer, Sears is threatened by competition from Wal-Mart and Best Buy. To stay above water, the company sold 254 of its stores to a self-created REIT, which resulted in oversold stock.

    19. TJX

    Chain:T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, HomeGoods and Sierra Trading Post

    Location: Framingham, MA

    US Retail Sales: $22B

    US Sales Growth: 5.7%

    US Stores: 2,569

    The company behind T.J. Maxx and HomeGoods increased its sales by 6.2% from last year. But it recently also opportunistically purchased Australian off-price retailer Trade Secret and its 35 store locations for AUD$80M.

    20. H-E-B Grocery

    20. H-E-B Grocery

    Chain: Central Market, H-E-B Plus!, Mi Tienda, Joe V's Smart Shop

    Location: San Antonio

    US Retail Sales: $19B

    US Sales Growth: < 5.7%

    US Stores: 317

    Despite being hyper-local to Northern Texas, H-E-B Grocery was dubbed the "Smartest Supermarket" by Forbes in 2014 due to its strategic marketing and in-store sales. The company is slowly and quietly buying up land in Dallas.

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