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Report Predicts Top Food Retailers Amid E-Commerce Shakeup

Online sales expected to account for 30.5% of total retail sales by 2026
Emily Crowe, Progressive Grocer
Walmart, Hy-Vee Part of Online WIC Payment Program
E-commerce sales are expected to take a bigger bite out of total retail sales in coming years.

A new report from Edge by Ascential is driving home the fact that e-commerce will continue to be the largest driver of retail growth in the U.S. over the next several years. The report predicts that the top three U.S. retailers in 2026 will be Amazon, Walmart and Costco Wholesale Corp., respectively.

Walmart is currently the largest U.S. retailer, but Edge by Ascential expects the company’s market share to decrease from 13.2% in 2021 to 12.7% in 2026, making way for Amazon to take the top spot by 2024. And by 2026, Amazon will likely hold almost 15% of retail market share in the country.

Online sales in the U.S. grew 15.2% to $907.7 billion from 2020 to 2021, which represented two times the growth of overall retail sales in the country. The report further says e-commerce will account for 30.5% of total retail sales by 2026, up from 24.6% in 2021.

“Inflationary pressures continue to cut into retailer margins, both in the U.S. and abroad, while rising labor rates, increased material costs and higher fuel prices across all supply chains impact suppliers, retailers and consumers,” said Deren Baker, CEO at U.K.-based Edge by Ascential. “Despite these challenges, data from Edge by Ascential shows that e-commerce will continue to be the largest driver of retail growth over the next few years in the U.S. and worldwide.”

“Amazon has always taken advantage of its head start as a digital-first platform and has been a pioneer of almost all the growth levers associated with platform-based retail from ‘subscribe and save’ through Prime membership to the evolving media and marketing services Amazon offers to brands,” Baker continued. “Therefore, it’s not a huge surprise that by gross merchandise value (GMV) sales, our AI-powered forecasting software on Edge Retail Insight anticipates Amazon to overtake Walmart as the largest retailer in the U.S. by 2024.”

Following Amazon and Walmart, Costco is expected to become the third-largest retailer in the U.S., with a market share increase from 3.8% in 2021 to 4.4% by 2026.

Online grocery sales will be a bright spot in the e-commerce landscape in coming years, with the report forecasting that those sales will add $34.7 billion in the U.S. between through 2026. Online edible grocery share is expected to hit 8.8% of all online sales by 2026.

As of 2021, online edible grocery penetration in the U.S. stood at 6.5%, about 50% of which was attributed to Walmart, Target Corp., The Kroger Co. and Costco. These were among the grocers that accelerated their edible grocery e-commerce presence and capability amid the pandemic.

Seattle-based Amazon is No. 2 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart U.S. is No. 1 and Issaquah, Wash.-based Costco is No. 3 on The PG 100. Meanwhile, Minneapolis-based Target Corp. is No. 6 and Cincinnati-based Kroger is No. 4.

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