Wal-Mart Stores Inc. this week topped Fortune’s annual list of the top 500 U.S. companies measured by total revenues. Founded in 1945, Walmart operates more than 11,000 stores in 28 countries and e-commerce websites in 11 countries — and this year marks the fifth straight year the retail giant landed in the list's prime spot.
Apple and CVS Health also made it in the top 10, while Amazon moved up to No. 12 from No. 18.
Warehouse membership club Costco, which has staked most of its success on brick-and-mortar rather than e-commerce, landed at No. 16; drugstore retailer Walgreens Boots Alliance (which appears to be faltering in its effort to acquire rival Rite Aid) is No. 17; and grocery giant Kroger is No. 18. The Home Depot, fairly secure in the healthy home improvement category, is No. 23, and Walmart rival Target, a much smaller retailer, sits at No. 38.
In the aggregate, the Fortune 500 companies represent two-thirds of the U.S. GDP with $12 trillion in revenues, $890 billion in profits, $19 trillion in market value, and employ 28.2 million people worldwide.
It’s a grave time for retail as e-commerce and shifting consumer priorities — to experiences and tech from apparel — continue to drive down traffic and sales from stores. While Walmart has spent years with stagnant e-commerce sales, that changed with its $3.3 billion acquisition of Amazon agitator Jet.com last year, along with a series of acquisitions since under its new U.S. e-commerce chief, Jet founder Marc Lore.
“Walmart continues to make progress adapting its brick-and-mortar business to a digital future, investing heavily in technology and using its largesse as the world’s largest company to push down prices in a bid to win market share away from rivals Target and Amazon,” Fortune said in its description of the top company.
Amazon continues to move steadily up the Fortune 500, with its assertive experimentation in fulfillment, delivery and, increasingly, brick-and-mortar play. “The Everything Store continued its assault on, well, everything in 2016: drones (via its Prime Air program), artificial intelligence (via its popular Alexa assistant), convenience stores (via its cashier-less Amazon Go chain), and most crucially, analyst expectations that the company couldn’t turn a profit with regularity,” according to Fortune.
Walgreens Boots Alliance at No. 17 is struggling to finalize its merger with rival Rite Aid, an acquisition increasingly in doubt. Rival CVS Health moved into the top 10 (at No. 7) even as it struggles with sales and plans to shrink its enlarged brick-and-mortar footprint.
Correction: This story has been corrected to reflect Amazon's ranking, which was earlier misreported as going from No. 12 to No. 8.