The last decade has altered the landscape of many retail & foodservice industries. Many chains have come and gone during that time, yet the leaders have solidified their position at the top. Competition has driven innovation at every level and the encroaching presence of online sales has restructured entire strategies. Physical retail is still very much alive, however the importance of an omnichannel experience is growing. The COVID-19 pandemic has only hastened these changes and resulted in heavy loses or massive gains depending on the industry.



The Apparel industry has seen a surge of interest in digitally ordered goods over the last few years. More customers are ordering clothes online or purchasing subscriptions that ship a selection of items to try out. Retailers have joined the trend by offering clothing rental subscriptions and “buy now pay later” services to provide more affordable options. Ten years ago these ideas would have had trouble getting traction with large crowds still flocking to malls in order to do more traditional apparel shopping. What is most surprising about the shift is that the leaders in the apparel industry haven’t skipped a beat. Gap Inc. has steadily increased their colossal portfolio of stores while Ross Stores Inc. has nearly doubled their store count in the time frame. The TJX Companies Inc. has added almost 2,000 stores in the last ten years while increasing their revenue by over $10 billion. Both Gap and TJX have robust online stores in addition to their physical locations, but Ross bucked the trend by focusing on brick and mortar retail.

Drug Stores and HBC Chains

It is impossible to discuss the evolution of Drug Stores without Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. and CVS Health. The two brands are pillars of the industry and have only increased their foothold over the last decade. In 2011 their dominance was not as widespread with challengers like Rite Aid Corporation having a sizable footprint. However, Walgreens and CVS expanded their reach and introduced innovations like next day delivery to compete with new rivals like Walmart and Amazon. Meanwhile, Rite Aid has relatively maintained their annual revenue, though it has lost almost half their stores since 2011.

Home Centers & Hardware Chains

If you are driving through an area and you see a Home Depot, then there is likely a Lowe’s across the street. The two hardware chains have been battling over home improvement for decades with Home Depot always having an edge. Home Depot and Lowes have tried to one-up the other over the years and it has resulted in similar goods and services at both stores. The biggest change for the brands occurred over the last year during the COVID-19 pandemic. Lockdowns across the U.S. increased the demand for home improvement and the two hardware chains gained billions of dollars in revenue.

Restaurant Chains

Restaurants have seen some of the most radical transformations over the last decade. The advent of third-party delivery services and delivery only eateries have revolutionized the industry. However, the more things change the more they stay the same as can be seen with McDonald’s Corporation’s continued dominance. YUM! Brands Inc. has significantly increased their portfolio of restaurants over the years, but they have faced stiff competition and at times lacked innovation. Starbucks has exploded in that time frame becoming a dominant force in restaurants. Of course, all of these restaurants and others faced severe setbacks due to COVID-19. The global pandemic has even caused the three brands mentioned above to develop new restaurants to focus on digital ordering.

Supermarket Chains

The supermarket industry saw the largest boon from the COVID-19, but many chains have been growing rapidly over the last ten years. The Kroger Co. saw a $42 billion revenue increase despite a declining number of stores. Costco Wholesale Corp. has seen a steady increase in locations and has almost doubled revenue. The most eye popping numbers come from Albertsons LLC that leveled up their competiveness with a massive store count and revenue to match. The past few years have been great for supermarkets and there is no sign that it will change anytime soon.

Convenience Stores

The convenience industry is always exciting to watch. Despite the constant acquisitions, this segment is top heavy with the biggest companies constantly retaining their crowns. Motiva Enterprises LLC and 7-Eleven Inc. remained steady over the years and Couche-Tard Inc. continued to grow into a leader. It’s not clear the complete impact that COVID-19 has had on c-stores, although it seems that they have fared better than restaurants.

Discount Department Stores

It is no surprise that the top earner in this industry is Walmart Stores Inc. They have set the pace for well over a decade and remain an innovator in the space. Same day delivery was an important component for the company as it added almost $30 billion in revenue last year. Target Corporation has always been a step behind the blue giant, however they are now catching up. In the last decade they have closed the gap with a robust online store and delivery options while creating a unique identity and store format. BJ’s Wholesale Club Inc. rounds out the group having carved out a solid place for themselves with continuous growth over the years. COVID-19 impacted the industry, but the implementation of online ordering helped soften the blow.

Bonus: E-Commerce

Despite the growth each industry has seen, it all pales in comparison to the small flame that has blossomed into a sun, Inc. The once online only company has grown into a behemoth that knows no equal, despite Walmart’s best efforts. Amazon has branched into convenience, drug, and supermarkets among others. The company has also added a sizable physical footprint despite being the leader in digital sales. There seems to be no area that Amazon will not expand into and there is no indication that they will fail. The growth of the company is almost unheard of with nearly $100 billion of added revenue in just the last year.

As we move into the next decade, we can expect the top earners to further their lead, however there is still room for new challengers. Online ordering has become a major source of revenue, even in industries like convenience and restaurant, that would have seemed unlikely ten years ago. The COVID-19 pandemic will also have to be reckoned with as companies look to recover and prevent history from repeating itself.