Wal-Mart: Both the Most Popular and the Most Hated

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Whatever U.S. consumers may think about Wal-Mart, the big box giant is their most frequent shopping destination. In fact, in the month of March, more than half of American shoppers visited a Wal-Mart, putting it at the top of the national popularity rankings.

This is despite a recent report on customer satisfaction that put Wal-Mart dead last among major retailers.

The new top 10 popularity list, compiled by 24/7 Wall St., is dominated by discount retail, fast-food and pharmacy stores. It is based on information from Placed, a data service that monitors the behavior of American consumers, as well as U.S. sales and store count data and advertising expenditure figures.

Wal-Mart’s corporate web site says it has 4,540 stores (not including Sam’s Club) across the 50 states.

Placed founder and CEO David Shim told 24/7 Wall St. that fast-food chains fill half of the most-visited list because people eat every day. Stores’ popularity is also influenced by the number of locations across the country and the retailers’ advertising budgets.

“From our perspective, [advertising] dollars do matter in terms of driving traffic in the store,” Shim said.

Five of the top 10 most popular stores in the United States were also among the highest advertising spenders in 2013, 24/7 Wall St. noted.

According to 24/7 Wall St., these are the 10 most popular stores in America:

  1. Wal-Mart: 51.91 percent of Americans shopped here in March.
  2. McDonald’s: 48.4 percent.
  3. Subway: 37.41 percent.
  4. Starbucks: 31.81 percent.
  5. Walgreens: 28.53 percent.
  6. Target: 23.83 percent.
  7. CVS: 21.85 percent.
  8. Burger King: 19.9 percent.
  9. Taco Bell: 19.52 percent.
  10. Dollar Tree: 18.9 percent.

My small town is home to just three of the top 10 most popular stores: Wal-Mart, McDonald’s and Subway. In any given month, I visit all three.

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