Consumer spending is the primary driver of economic growth in the United States. After climbing for eight consecutive years, U.S. consumer spending hit an all-time high of $13.4 trillion in 2017.
But it is where Americans choose to spend their money that is key to the success of many companies. For customer facing businesses — such as retail stores, banks, gyms, and restaurants — the ability to get people in the door means the difference between success and failure.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed foot traffic patterns provided by data service company Placed Insights, which calculated the percentage of Americans 13 and older who visited various stores in April 2018. We also reviewed U.S. sales and store count data from company financial documents.
The most popular stores in the country tend to share several common qualities. Notably, they all sell items that are practical, everyday necessities such as food, clothing, or medicine, and therefore are not limited to a singular target demographic.
Eight of the 25 most popular stores in the country are fast food restaurants. Several more, including Walmart, Kroger, and Target are grocery stores or department stores with grocery sections.
Not only do the most popular stores have broad appeal, but also they are nearly ubiquitous. Each of the companies on this list has hundreds, thousands, or even tens of thousands of stores in the United States.
The companies on this list often invest considerably in advertising to increase their brand’s visibility and build a reliable customer base. Multiple companies on this list have among the largest advertising budgets. For brands like Dunkin Donuts, Home Depot, and Walgreens, ad spending reached several hundred million dollars in 2016 alone. Target and Bank of America each spent more than $1 billion that year, while Walmart’s ad spending topped $2 billion — two-thirds of which went to television spots.