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In 50 Years, Wal-Mart Turns a Store into an Empire

Wal-Mart turned 50 years old this month. Founder Sam Walton’s first shop in Rogers, Arkansas, has grown into a 10,185-store chain in 27 countries, making Wal-Mart Stores Inc. the fourth-largest company in the world. Many suppliers rely on it for large portions of their revenue. For example, Wal-Mart provides Procter & Gamble, the largest consumer goods maker, 15 percent of its revenue; Wal-Mart’s sales of those products account for a small fraction of its total revenue and just 3.8 percent of its total cost of goods sold. The company’s sustainability initiative, which began in 2005, focuses this global influence on efforts to shrink waste and reduce environmental impacts within its supply chain.

These two graphics illustrate Wal-Mart’s geographic scale and economic influence. The animated map shows where U.S. Wal-Mart stores opened annually between 1962 and 2006, the last year for which data are available.

A Nation of Big Boxes


Click Here to Watch Wal-Mart Grow

This map shows where Wal-Mart opened U.S. stores, from 1962 to 2006, the most recent year for which data are available.

Companies Depend on Wal-Mart

The interactive table below shows how important Wal-Mart’s business is to the companies that sell it goods and services. The left column shows what percentage of each supplier’s revenue comes from Wal-Mart. The right column shows what percentage of a supplier’s revenue comes from another major purchaser: Select from eight retail chains or the U.S. federal government by clicking the menu box in the right margin labeled “Compare to.” Click the “Sort by” menu to reorder the suppliers along other criteria.


This interactive table shows the most recent percentage of revenue that each of these companies received from Wal-Mart and Costco Wholesale. Use the Compare to menu to select a different major purchaser.

Compare to:

By default, the suppliers are listed according to the percentage of their revenue that they earn from Wal-Mart. Use the “Sort by” menu to sort them by other criteria.

Sort by:

Data Compiled by Bloomberg. Map courtesy of Bing. Map images ©2012 Microsoft ©2012 NAVTEQ.

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