As they say in the child-rearing game, “bigger children, bigger problems.”

Take Wal-Mart’s misfortunes of the past year. The largest retailer in the world experienced slowing comp-store gains, lawsuits, raids, government probes and consumer backlash against sprawl created by supercenters in exurban areas. Royal Ahold has been engulfed in a billion-dollar accounting scandal that led to the resignation of several key executives and Target’s sales have been soft. But the big boys never let much stand in their way. Wal-Mart is pressing on with a variety of initiatives. Ahold has a tougher road to hoe, especially the U.S. Foodservice unit. Target is setting its sights on Baby Boomers after avidly courting 40-plus customers, while others like Tesco are taking a closer look at fashion as a profit center. Below, rankings based on 2002 volume, the most recent data available.

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