10 Retailers Take Two-Thirds of Your Money

10 Retailers Take Two-Thirds of Your Money

In this Thursday, Nov. 27, 2014, photo, a woman pays for merchandise at a Kohl's department store in Sherwood, Ark. Relying on credit for holiday shopping without a plan to pay off the debt quickly can easily cost you more in the long run. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)
(AP Photo/Danny Johnston)

Matt Krantz, USA TODAY

(USA Today) — If you want to understand the health of retail – follow the money. It ends up in a relatively small number of cash registers anyway.

Just 10 food, staples and general retailers in the broad Standard & Poor’s 1500, including giant Wal-Mart (WMT), drugstore CVS Health (CVS) and membership-based seller Costco Wholesale (COST) collected two-thirds of all the revenue generated by this broad universe of publicly traded retailers over the past 12 months, according to a USA TODAY analysis of data from S&P Capital IQ based on most recently available data. The remaining 89 retailers account for the remaining third of revenue.

Investors are maniacally focused on retailers this week and next – as many of the giants will have reported quarterly profit. It can become overwhelming to know which retailers’ profit reports are most telling about the economy, earnings and consumer sentiment. But while there are dozens of publicly traded retailers, there are just a few that really control the industry.