Companies in this sector sell a wide range of products to consumers and businesses, from food and apparel to hardware, household goods, and office supplies. Major companies include Wal-Mart, Costco, and Kroger (all based in the US), as well as Schwarz (Germany), Tesco (UK), and Carrefour (France).
Global retail sales -- including both in-store and online purchases -- are projected to top $28 trillion in 2018 after exceeding $24 trillion in 2015, according to eMarketer. Nearly a third of the 250 largest retail companies in the world are based in the US, followed closely by Europe, according to Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu. Japan accounts for more than 10%. US-based retailers are the most global and are aggressively expanding their operations abroad. The top market for international expansion is Asia, particularly China and Hong Kong.
The US retail industry includes about 1 million outlets with combined annual revenue of more than $5 trillion. The industry includes auto dealers and Internet and catalog retailers, but generally excludes food and drinking establishments, such as restaurants and bars.
Personal income, consumer confidence, and interest rates drive demand. The profitability of individual companies depends on efficient supply chain management and effective merchandising and marketing. Large companies have advantages in purchasing, distribution, and marketing. Small companies can compete effectively by selling unique merchandise, providing superior customer service, offering a distinctive shopping experience, or serving a local market.
While large companies dominate some retail sectors (such...