15 Points about the Top 500

1.) Home Depot, $74.3 billion.

2.) Lowe’s Cos., $48.3 billion.

3.) The list goes on, all the way to Len-Co Lumber Corp., of Buffalo, N.Y., $25.0 million.

4.) In honor of the work that goes into the creation of our Top 500 list—officially known as the HCN Top 500 Retail Scoreboard—this editorial is written in the form of a list.

5.) There are longer lists, such as the Fortune 1000. There are more famous lists, such as the FBI’s most wanted. But there’s nothing quite like our deep dive into the otherwise uncharted waters of home channel retailing. The research and degree of difficulty are intense—you can count the public companies of our Top 500 on two hands and one foot. The data isn’t handed to us. It’s earned.

6.) So how do we do it? Experience and organization. It begins with veteran managing editor Michael Alterio and includes the collective elbow grease of Chain Store Guides, our sister company dedicated to tracking retail statistics.

7.) There is no point in sugar coating the findings.

8.) Combined sales of the Top 500 totaled $250.9 billion, down 2.1 percent from the previous years. That’s the first step backward for the Top 500 since HCN has been keeping track. This decline comes despite industry consolidation that acts as a natural inflator of the Scoreboard’s total sales.

9.) Decliners led gainers 288 to 164, with the remaining 48 companies reporting flat sales.

10.) But there is also good news.

11.) Hardware stores seem insulated, to a certain extent, from the housing market woes—a reflection of the neverending need for repairs and upkeep, no matter what the economy does. The 24 hardware store retailers on the list saw a combined growth of 12.6 percent.

12.) Farm and fleet stores fared even better. Combined sales increased 13.1 percent for the 31 farm and fleet companies on the Top 500.

13.) Every time our list is referenced in a PowerPoint presentation or mentioned in the media, we feel a sense of accomplishment.

14.) But the work is never done. We’re already thinking ahead to next year’s Scoreboard.

15.) The Top 500 begins on page 50.We invite your comments.

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