No matter how fast you swim, it's hard to survive when you're the little fish. This is all the more true when you're a tiny retailer in a sea of sharks. And, apparently, it's the most true when those waters are choppy, storm-tossed and generally inhospitable. OK, enough with the extended metaphor. The point, according to Planet Retail's latest assessment of annual revenues, is that in these trying times, the big fish are winning. Ranked by revenues, Wal-Mart Stores ( WMT), unsurprisingly, once again nabbed the No. 1 slot on the STORES Top 100 list.
With more than $405 billion in sales, the big-box retailer has been able to attract shoppers who are trading down for lower prices, especially with the re-launch of its Great Value line. And Wal-Mart has been careful not to replay it's move a few years ago, when it tried to win shoppers with higher-end merchandise that didn't stay true to its message of "Save More. Live Better." This tactic has actually hurt retailers like Target ( TGT), which relies heavily on trendy apparel and home furnishing to drive sales, two of the weakest categories. The company comes in at No. 5 on the list, with sales of nearly $65 billion, aided by the addition of a larger grocery section. Wal-Mart has even been taking market share from grocers, helping to push Supervalu ( SVU) out of its top 10 position. Kroger ( KR), on the other hand, jumped to the No. 2 spot this year from No. 4 last year, as it was able to capture shoppers who, last summer when gas prices peaked, were looking to buy both groceries and non-food items in the same shopping trip to save at the pump.