The annual ranking by Home Channel News of the 500 largest retailers in the home improvement product channel hit the streets recently, and it was not surprising that Home Depot and Lowe's remain firmly entrenched in the top spots.

With $64.8 billion in 2003 sales, an 11.3 percent increase, the Atlanta-based Home Depot maintained the top spot on the Home Channel News list by a wide margin.

As the second largest retailer in this market, Lowe's, Mooresville, N.C., grew 18.1 percent to $30.8 billion in annual sales. The two companies opened a combined total of 315 new stores in 2003 (Home Depot with 217, and Lowe's with 98). That's many miles of new aisles. In total, these openings represent more than 36 million square feet of new retail space.

These new stores offer a sense of how fast Home Depot and Lowe's are growing compared to others in this market. The next largest home center, Menard's, Eau Claire, Wis., opened 11 new stores in 2003. This year's listing included at least two other types of retailers — Wal-Mart, Bentonville, Ark.; and Sears, Chicago — because of the huge volume of home improvement products they sell. Wal-Mart, which registered a 21.7 percent sales gain in home improvement products, opened 151 stores.

Electrical products and residential lighting continue to occupy a prominent position in these stores. But according to Home Center News' “Top 500,” electrical products account for a relatively small 4.75 percent of the average retailer's product sales in the home improvement sales. That's a percentage comparable to kitchen/cabinets (4.84 percent), roofing (4.53 percent) and hardware (4.41 percent). But dwarfed by sales of lumber and plywood (16.76 percent); lawn and garden (12.17 percent); flooring (8.9 percent); paint and sundries (8.84 percent); plumbing and bath (8.71 percent); tools (8.11 percent); and doors and windows (7.49 percent).

For more information on the Home Center News “Top 500,” check out www.homechannelnews.com

TOP 10 HOME CENTERS

2003 Sales (in billions) Change from 2002 Locations 2002 Locations Change from 2002 Employees
1. Home Depot, Atlanta $64.8 11.3% 1,587 1,370 217 300,000
2. Lowe's Companies, Mooresville, N.C. $30.8 18.1% 952 854 98 121,000
3. Wal-Mart, Bentonville, Ark.* $14.6 21.7% 3,551 3,400 151 1,200,000
4. Sears, Hoffman Estates, Ill.** $10.0 5.3% 1,116 1,128 -12 201,000
5. Menards, Eau Claire, Wis. $6.61 10.3% 186 175 11 80,000
6. CCA Global Partners, Earth City, Mo. $5.4 30.9% 2,254 1,850 404 25,377
7. Sherwin-Williams, Cleveland $3.5 5.1% 2,721 2,643 78 25,777
8. Stock Building Supply, Raleigh, N.C. $2.7 1.2% 224 224 0 9,200
9. 84 Lumber, Eighty Four, Pa. $2.6 18.7% 454 437 17 6,500
10. Lanoga, Redmond, Wash. $2.0 34.6% 227 218 9 8,000
Source: Home Channel News
* Includes only major appliance, hardware, lawn and garden, and home improvement sales as estimated by Home Channel News.
** Includes sales from Sears Hardware stores, Ochard Supply Hardware and Sears full-line stores.