Special Report

10 Most Popular Stores in America

4. Starbucks
> Pct. of Americans visiting in March: 31.81%
> Number of U.S. stores: 11,962
> Store category: Food & beverage

As a testament to how well established the company brand is, Starbucks is the fourth most popular store in the country. As of last year, however, the company wasn’t even in the top 100 for advertising dollars spent. While the coffeehouse chain does not outspend its peers on advertising, its customers outspend those frequenting other chains. Starbucks’ visitors tend to have higher incomes than the clientele of many other popular fast-food restaurants. In fact, the areas with the most Starbucks restaurants are also among the nation’s most affluent regions. Over the past decade, researchers have observed a close relationship between rising real estate prices and growing concentrations of Starbucks stores.

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3. Subway
> Pct. of Americans visiting in March: 37.41%
> Number of U.S. stores: 26,985
> Store category: Food & beverage

Doctor’s Associates, Subway’s parent company, invested more than $573 million in marketing in 2013. Like several of the most popular stores, this advertising expenditure was among the 100 largest in the U.S. and likely contributed to the restaurant’s popularity. Subway has far and away the highest number of stores compared to other fast food chains, with over 25,000 locations worldwide. While Subway is a privately held company and does not generally publish its U.S. sales, a recent report from research firm Technomic placed the sandwich chain’s nationwide annual sales at about $12 billion, trailing only Starbucks and McDonald’s.

2. McDonald’s
> Pct. of Americans visiting in March: 48.40%
> Number of U.S. stores: 14,350
> Store category: Food & beverage

There are roughly 16,000 McDonald’s restaurants nationwide, and the fast-food chain is more popular than every U.S. store, except for Wal-Mart. More than 48% of American consumers visited a McDonald’s in March. McDonald’s reported sales by company-operated stores of $18.2 billion in 2014, down from the previous year. Revenues from franchised restaurants, on the other hand, at $9.3 billion, were up slightly from 2013. Like many other popular stores, McDonald’s is among the 100 top advertising spenders. In 2013, the company spent $1.4 billion on marketing, up from the previous year.

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1. Walmart (NYSE: WMT)
> Pct. of Americans visiting in March: 51.91%
> Number of U.S. stores: 4,516
> Store category: Shopping

More than half of all American consumers visited a Walmart in March, the highest such share among all U.S. companies, and the only store to command a majority of American shoppers’ business. Walmart spent more than $1.8 billion on advertising in 2013, which has likely helped bolster visitation rates. While this expenditure was the 13th largest nationwide, it was only a fraction of the retail behemoth’s total revenues. In its fiscal 2015, Walmart reported revenues of $485.7 billion, by far the largest revenue figure of any company in the world.

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