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NRF releases Top 50 Global Retailers list

Retailers that made the list include Walmart, Costco, Ahold Delhaize, Walgreens Boots Alliance and Sephora.

The Top 50 Global Retailers list has been released by the National Retail Federation. 

In partnership with the NRF, Kantar produced this ranking of the Top 50 Global Retailers in 2021, which the companies dubbed as "a fresh look at the 50 most impactful international retailers based on their operations from the start of 2021."

Kantar’s ranking methodology uses a system in which points are given to retailers based on their domestic and international retail revenues. To qualify for the rankings, retailers need to have a direct investment in at least three countries.

Walmart emerged in the top spot, with total company revenues of $538.15 billion. Amazon.com ranked number 2, with total company revenues of $330.20 billion. The fifth spot went to Costco with total company revenues of $187.16 billion. Ahold Delhaize came in sixth place with total company revenues of $93.20 billion. Walgreens Boots Alliance ranked 11th with international revenues of $12.97 billion. The 32nd spot was secured by Sephora, which had international revenues of $13.08 billion.

To qualify for this year’s rankings, companies had to meet several criteria. Both publicly and privately-owned companies were considered, and the businesses were reviewed between January and March 2022.

[Read more: These chains topped J.D. Power's 2021 rankings as 51% of shoppers used pharmacy health services]

First, the company must be a retailer, defined as a goods-for-consumer resale operation open to the public. Second, the company must have direct selling operations in at least three countries, one of which must not be an adjacent territory to the retailer’s home country. Offshore tax havens, territories and protectorates are disqualified from consideration as a country.

The review process looked at retailers’ international direct selling capabilities and total global retail sales. Where reported, Kantar took the size of the company’s international retail sales for the most recent 52-week filing period, in the currency provided, and converted the figure to U.S. dollars. Currencies were converted using the International Monetary Fund rates database. After considering the relative impact of international and domestic operations, Kantar created a points system giving the most points to retailers with international direct selling, and fewer points to those with a preponderance of domestic retail sales.

Sources for this year’s report included annual reports, public filings and press statements, as well as consumer research on shopping patterns. Much of this data is collected by a global team of analysts who work throughout the year on the estimates. 

[Read more: These pharmacies topped J.D. Power's 2020 survey]

There are three notable departures from the Top 50 Global Retailers lists from prior years. After careful consideration, these adjustments are intended to focus this body of work on the retail operations of these businesses and with greater attention placed on the most relevant ranking factors, the NRF said, noting the following:

  • First, in alignment with Kantar’s Retail IQ methodology, the companies accounted only for retail revenues in determining rank points. In prior years, retailers’ full reported revenues were leveraged in determining rank points. As the largest global retailers continue to expand outside of retail revenues, this list now focuses only on retail-relevant revenues.
  • Second, the companies eliminated assigning rank points based on alliances, partnerships, online marketplaces or differentiation between first- and third-party sales. These factors played a negligible role in the rankings in recent years.
  • Lastly, the companies no longer incorporate food service companies in this ranking, which has had a minor impact; only three restaurants made the Global Top 50 list last year.
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