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10 Best Retail Employers to Work for 2021

Jamie Grill-Goodman
Senior Editor
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Forbes' Methodology

To determine Forbes' list, Statista surveyed 38,000 Americans working for businesses with at least 1,000 employees. All the surveys were anonymous, allowing participants to openly share their opinions. The respondents were asked to rate, on a scale of zero to 10, how likely they’d be to recommend their employer to others. Statista then asked respondents to nominate organizations other than their own, as well as identify organizations they would not recommend to others. The final list ranks the 500 large and 500 midsize employers that received the most recommendations.

The pandemic has left millions of Americans jobless, while simultaneously putting many employed retail associates on the front lines. Yet in the face of these challenges, some top retailers are still garnering recommendations from their valued employees.

This is not an easy task, considering the current retail climate. While the unemployment rate fell to 6.3% in January from 6.7 % in December, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, notable job gains were offset by losses in retail trade, among other sectors. Retail trade lost 38,000 jobs in January, after adding 135,000 jobs in December.

In addition to job losses, in the face of COVID-19, retail employees’ safety has been pushed to top of mind for c-suite executives. And many workers have faced challenges both professional and personal in an unprecedented year.

Despite all this, some companies have risen to the challenge — attracting and retaining talented employees, while keeping their wellbeing and safety in mind.

To pinpoint the companies liked best by employees Forbes partnered with market research company Statista for its annual ranking of America’s Best Employers. The ranking is divided into two lists: one for the top large companies with more than 5,000 U.S. employees, and another for the top midsize companies with 1,000 to 5,000.

The final lists rank the 500 large and 500 midsize employers that received the most recommendations. Below, RIS looked at the data and pulled the top 10 large and midsized retailers that made the cut.

[See How This List Compares to RIS' Top 100 Retailers Ranking]

a house that has a sign on the side of a road

When looking at RIS’ breakdown, Costco Wholesale and Build-A-Bear Workshop both top their respective lists, ranking an impressive No. 4 of all businesses on each.

Forbes explains when COVID-19 shuttered Build-A-Bear’s stores and children were forced to forego the heart-placing ceremony in its stuffed bears, each morning in its warehouse, hundreds of workers would host a heart ceremony for all of the bears they would make that day to ship online  —  all on their own accord.

This shared sense of purpose, as well as perks such as an annual employee chili cook-off and $100,000 employee assistance program, earned Build-A-Bear the No. 4 spot on our list,” writes Forbes.

Meanwhile, recent reviews of Costco on Glassdoor called their insurance “top notch,” benefits “amazing,” and cited great vacation and time off policies. Employees also appreciate the included membership.

The following retailers below make up the rest of America’s best retailer employers for 2021. Click here for Forbes’ full list of “America’s Best Large Employers” or here for Forbes’ full list of “America’s Best Mid-Sized Employers.

10 Best Large American Retailers to Work for

  1. (Rank: 4) Costco Wholesale
  2. (Rank: 7) Trader Joe's
  3. (Rank: 9) Bass Pro Shops
  4. (Rank: 46) eBay
  5. (Rank: 47) Columbia Sportswear
  6. (Rank: 73) Puma
  7. (Rank: 75) IKEA
  8. (Rank: 76) Sephora
  9. (Rank: 79) ALDI
  10. (Rank: 82) Hobby Lobby



10 Best Mid-Sized American Retailers to Work for

  1. (Rank:4) Build-A-Bear Workshop
  2. (Rank:49) Crocs
  3. (Rank:58) Lands' End
  4. (Rank:73) True Value
  5. (Rank:100) Melaleuca
  6. (Rank:130) Blue Apron Holding
  7. (Rank:178) Total Wine & More
  8. (Rank:181) LUSH Fresh Handmade Cosmetics
  9. (Rank:182) Pet Supplies Plus
  10. (Rank:194) Half Price Books