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.close