A look at the 2023 Top 50 Global Retailers

Photo from: NRF


The Top 50 Global Retailers is a fresh look at the 50 most impactful international retailers based on their operations from the start of 2022.

Walmart remains on top, followed by Amazon, Schwarz Group, Aldi and Costco

The Top 50 Global Retailers contended with another year of unusual markets created by the pandemic. Even as most countries decided to live with COVID-19 and scaled back the number of the extreme lockdowns that distorted retail in 2021, outbreaks of new variants still disrupted key retail seasons.

Overall, retail sales and profits grew due to changes in shoppers’ needs and routines. China continued to be the major exception as it pursued its zero-COVID policy with rapid regional lockdowns in response to outbreaks. By the end of 2022, however, China had relaxed this policy, a change likely to be felt more in 2023.

In many countries, lack of inventory and unpredictable supply chains limited retail in 2022, but the bigger issue was labor. The severe retail labor shortage in most regions impacted not only in-store services (including pharmacies), but also warehouse management and logistics. The shortage forced many retailers to reduce opening hours and limit merchandising innovations. Self-checkout became more widespread in response to the lack of store workers.

Global inflation had its greatest impact on consumables sold in hypermarkets, supermarkets and value retailers. Apparel retailers continued to improve, though at much slower rates than they did in 2021. In addition, their reliance on offshore manufacturing made inventory unpredictable. While malls and shopping districts failed to drive new growth for smaller retail tenants, they did not fall back to 2019 lows.

All of retail was vulnerable not only to logistics slowdowns, but also to ongoing shortages of packaging materials such as wood pulp, plastics, glass and aluminum that were in short supply throughout the year.

The Russia-Ukraine war that broke out in February 2022 destabilized many markets, especially the Middle East and Africa that rely on Ukraine for grain and fertilizer. But as the year went on, new sources of supply helped mitigate most of that disruption. Another heightened concern was cybersecurity as hackers attempted to access retailers’ data and demand ransom. In response, most retailers redirected some funds meant for new stores and remodels to protect their assets.

Any comparison of retailers operating in multiple countries is made difficult by currency exchange rates. In addition, retailer rankings are normally created using reported consolidated revenues, which dilute the impact that joint ventures, franchises and marketplaces can have on helping retailers internationalize. Finally, most retailers generate the bulk of their sales from domestic operations, allowing those with the biggest domestic markets to appear to have the largest international operations, which is not always the case.

Kantar has worked with NRF to produce this ranking of the Top 50 Global Retailers to maximize the discussion, debate, education and exploration opportunities the ranking can provide.

Kantar’s ranking methodology uses a system that awards points to retailers based on their domestic and international retail revenues. To qualify for the ranking, retailers need to have a direct investment in at least three countries.

In alignment with Kantar’s Retail IQ methodology, only retail revenues determined ranking points. As the largest global retailers continue to expand outside of retail revenues, this list now focuses only on retail-specific revenues.

Most retailers in Kantar’s scope of coverage operate in the food, drug and mass merchandise channels. To offer users a robust view of global retail trends, Kantar also covers retail leaders across all channels globally, but not exhaustively.

Keeping within these guidelines, Walmart continues to be the world’s largest retailer, both domestically and internationally, with significant commitments to a new online marketplace and fulfillment model. But within the Top 50, Walmart faces challenges from Amazon, Schwarz Group, Aldi and Costco, all of which are tapping into new markets for value shopping. The major Chinese online player Alibaba is still in the overall group but has struggled due to changes in China’s regulatory environment that have limited the company’s advantages in financial technology.

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