Introduction to Retailing

What you’ll learn to do: Describe retailing, the entities involved, and the impact of decisions on a retail business

a grocery store aisle

Retailing is important for business students to understand for two main reasons. First, almost all product channel structures conclude with a retailer. This means that no matter where a product starts its journey, it almost always ends up at a retailer. While products may be produced by a manufacturer, pass through a wholesaler, or involve transactions with brokers or agents, retailers are the connection to the consumers. Second, retail offers an immense number of job opportunities. In 2016, there were 3,793,621 retail establishments that support 42 million jobs. Retail also contributes $2.6 trillion to the U.S. gross domestic product.

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

Who are these retailers who provide so many jobs for our economy? The NRF posts an annual list of the top one hundred retailers by retail sales. The top ten are listed in the table below.

Top Ten Retailers According to NRF
Rank Retailer U.S. Headquarters 2016 Retail Sales
1 Walmart Stores Bentonville, Arkansas $353,108,000
2 The Kroger Co. Cincinnati, Ohio $103,878,000
3 Costco Issaquah, Washington $83,545,000
4 The Home Depot Atlanta, Georgia $79,297,000
5 Walgreen Deerfield, Illinois $76,604,000
6 Target Minneapolis, Minnesota $73,226,000
7 CVS Caremark Woonsocket, Rhode Island $72,151,000
8 Seattle, Washington $61,619,000
9 Albertsons Boise, Idaho $58,443,000
10 Lowe’s Companies Mooresville, North Carolina $57,486,000

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