Outcome: Retailers As Channels of Distribution

What you’ll learn to do: describe types of retailers and explain how they are used as a channel of distribution

Retailing is important for marketing students to understand for two main reasons. First, most channel structures end with a retailer. While products may pass through a wholesaler or involve a broker or agent, they also include a retailer. Second, retail offers an immense number of job opportunities. Today in the U.S., there are 3,793,621 retail establishments that support 42 million jobs. Retail also contributes $2.6 trillion to the U.S. gross domestic product.[1]

You can view the number of jobs and retail presence in your state at the National Retail Federation (NRF).

Who are these retailers? The NRF posts an annual list of the top one hundred retailers by retail sales. The top ten are listed in the table below.[2]

National Retail Federation’s 2019 Top 10 Retailers List
Rank Retailer U.S. Headquarters 2018 Retail Sales (billions)
1 Walmart Stores Bentonville, Arkansas $387.66
2 Amazon.com Seattle, Washington $120.93
3 The Kroger Co. Cincinnati, Ohio $119.70
4 Costco Issaquah, Washington $101.43
5 Walgreens Deerfield, Illinois $98.39
6 The Home Depot Atlanta, Georgia $97.27
7 CVS Health Corporation Woonsocket, Rhode Island $83.79
8 Target Minneapolis, Minnesota $74.48
9 Lowe’s Companies Mooresville, North Carolina $64.09
10 Albertsons Companies Boise, Idaho $59.71

In this section you’ll learn more about the retail channel and the strategies that drive its growth.

Learning Activities

  • Reading: Define Retailing
  • Reading: Types of Retailers
  • Reading: Retail Strategy
  • Self Check: Retailers As Channels of Distribution



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  1. “Retail's Impact.” NRF. Accessed September 24, 2019. https://nrf.com/retails-impact.
  2. “STORES Top Retailers 2019.” NRF. NRF. Accessed September 24, 2019. https://stores.org/stores-top-retailers-2019/.