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Essential Retail Statistics Highlighting the Industry’s Resilience

Essential Retail Statistics Highlighting the Industry’s Resilience

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Retail is the pillar of the global economy, but like many industries, it had to change in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. In this retail statistics overview, we’ll explore the global industry’s current state. We’ll look at the pandemic’s effect on the industry, see who the global and regional winners are, and examine which sectors are faring the best. We’ll also discuss retail theft as one of the industry’s most persistent problems.

Top 10 Retail Statistics and Facts for 2023

  • Worldwide retail sales generated $26 trillion in 2021.

  • Global retail spending will reach $31.3 trillion by 2025.

  • North America held 48.4% of the global retail market in fiscal year 2020.

  • The US retail market reached $6.59 trillion in 2021.

  • China’s retail revenue in 2021 totaled $6.5 trillion.

  • Walmart was the world’s leading retailer in 2021.

  • Apparel will be the fastest-growing retail sector between 2021 and 2026.

  • 12,200 US stores closed in 2020 due to COVID-19.

  • The UK saw the closure of 17,532 retail stores in 2020.

  • For every $1 billion earned, retailers lose $720,000 to theft.

General Retail Industry Statistics

Worldwide retail sales generated $26 trillion in 2021.

Of that number, $21.1 trillion came from physical stores and the remaining $4.9 trillion from ecommerce. The numbers indicate that the retail industry has largely recovered from the hit it suffered during the 2020 global pandemic. The total value of global retail sales was up by 9.7% from $23.7 trillion in 2020 and up by 6.1% from $24.5 trillion in pre-pandemic 2019.


Global retail spending will reach $31.3 trillion by 2025.

After pandemic-related declines in the previous year, 2021 was marked by unprecedented growth. But experts predict this growth in retail sales figures should stabilize. According to them, the industry should reach $27.3 trillion in 2021 — up by 5% year-over-year. For the next three years, retail sales should grow at an annual rate of 4.6%, reaching $31.3 trillion by 2025.


North America held 48.4% of the global retail market in fiscal year 2020.

Europe ranked second with a 32.7% share. For comparison, North America is home to 78 of the 250 top retailers in the world, while Europe is home to 90. The Asia-Pacific region ranked third with 61 top retailers and 15.9% market share in fiscal year 2020 (the 12-month period beginning on July 1, 2020 and ending on June 30, 2021). Meanwhile, Latin America held just 1.6% of the market with 11 leading retailers, and Africa and the Middle East had 1.4% with 10 top retailers.


The US retail market size reached $6.59 trillion in 2021.

This marked an impressive 17.9% growth from $5.59 trillion in 2020. And even in the face of the global pandemic, the US retail market managed to grow in 2020 — up by 3.3% from $5.41 trillion in 2019. After a two-year decline due to the global financial crisis, the market has been steadily growing since 2009. In all, its value has increased by 88.4% over the last 12 years.


China’s retail revenue in 2021 totaled $6.5 trillion.

The revenue of ¥44.08 trillion marks a 12.5% growth over 2020. But despite a successful year, the retail sales data from December 2021 shows a 0.2% decline from the month before. Although China is currently among the largest retail markets in the world, experts predict a considerable slowdown in its growth due to high inflation rates, property market problems, and decreasing consumer demand. The country will remain the global leader in ecommerce, though.

(China Internet Watch, Deloitte)

Biggest Retailers in the World

Walmart was the world’s leading retailer in 2021.

With global revenue of $538.15 billion, Walmart was once again the world’s top retail company. Its revenue went up by 3.5% from $519.93 billion in 2020. The global top 5 includes two more US retailers — Amazon in second place ($330.2 billion) and Costco in third ($187.16 billion). The remaining two spots are reserved for German retailers specializing in discount groceries. Schwarz Group is in fourth with $158.58 billion, and Aldi is in fifth with $134.67 billion.

(National Retail Federation)

Walmart was also the top US retailer in 2021.

Looking at the top 5 retailers in the US in 2021, Walmart came out on top with $459.11 billion in domestic retail sales. The number was up by 6.6% from 2020 and accounted for 84% of the company’s global sales. Amazon was second with $217.79 billion, up by a whopping 12.6% from 2020. The rest of the top five includes Costco (third with $140.41 billion), The Home Depot (fourth with $140.06 billion), and Kroger (fifth with $136.49 billion).

(National Retail Federation)

Schwarz is the leading retailer in Europe.

One of the biggest retail companies in the world, the owner of the famous Lidl chain of stores made $114.9 billion (€113 billion) in revenue in 2020. Another German company, Aldi, finished second with $77.3 billion (€76 billion). The list also includes France’s Carrefour in third place ($74.25 billion), UK’s Tesco in fourth ($65.1 billion), and Germany’s Rewe in fifth ($64.7 billion).


Alibaba is the top retailer in Asia.

Retail sales statistics from Asia reveal that the Chinese giant Alibaba was the region’s most successful retailer in 2021. The company made $478.89 billion, putting it well ahead of second-placed ($368.2 billion). Other top retailers in Asia include Pinduoduo ($111.81 billion), the AEON Group ($81 billion), and Seven & I Holdings ($77.32 billion).


Retail Sales by Category

US retailers have sold $900.6 billion worth of motor vehicles and parts in the first seven months of 2022.

In terms of sales, motor vehicles are the best-performing product category in the US. Other high performers include nonstore retailers (e.g., mail-order houses and home delivery sales) with $706.5 billion, food and beverage stores with $537.3 billion, and general merchandise stores with $453.3 billion. In all, US retailers have sold $4.62 trillion worth of goods in the first seven months of the year — up by 10.2% over the same seven-month period in 2021.

(US Census Bureau)

Apparel will be the fastest-growing sector between 2021 and 2026.

According to retail industry analysis, fashion and apparel will grow at an annual rate of 8.7% and electronics at a rate of 8.6%. Over the same period, leisure and entertainment will grow at 7.7% annually, with home and do-it-yourself growing at 6.4% and office furniture and supplies at 6.3%. Other fast-growing categories include household and pet care (5.7%), health and beauty (5.3%), edible groceries (4%), and food services (3.7%).


The UK’s apparel market generated $67.04 billion in 2021.

A recent retail sales report indicates that the revenue of £55.52 billion was below the pre-pandemic high of £57.66 billion ($69.62 billion in 2019). However, it still marked a 6.7% increase from £52.06 billion ($62.84 billion) in 2020. After a brief slowdown in 2022, experts predict the apparel market will resume its growth as soon as 2023. From there, it will carry on growing, eventually reaching £65.63 billion ($79.24 billion) in 2026.


Retail Trends and COVID-19

More than 600 US companies filed for bankruptcy in 2020.

Among the companies that went bankrupt due to the COVID-19 pandemic were some of the nation’s most iconic retailers. These included CEC Entertainment, the owner of the Chuck E. Cheese restaurant chain, which had $1.1 billion in liabilities at the time of filing. Other retailers that filed for bankruptcy included JCPenney, J. Crew, Lord & Taylor, and Brooks Brothers.

(S&P Global, AARP)

12,200 US stores closed in 2020 due to COVID-19.

Retail industry data points to a 22% increase from 10,000 stores shut down in 2019. As many retailers declared bankruptcy due to the pandemic, they were forced to close hundreds of physical stores. Among them were JCPenney, Gap, GameStop, and Macy’s. Some companies entirely shut down their operations. The most high-profile closure was that of Pier 1 Imports and its 950 stores. In all, the store closures amounted to 159 million square feet of retail space.


The UK saw the closure of 17,532 retail stores in 2020.

With 7,655 new stores opening their doors in 2020, this accounted for 9,877 permanent closures. According to retail industry facts, this amounted to 48 closures a day. At the same time, only 21 new stores opened daily — nowhere near enough to offset the loss. Worse yet, these shutdowns left 176,718 Brits working in retail without jobs. This translates to a loss of 3,398 retail jobs per week or nearly 483 per day.

(Retail Gazette)

During the pandemic, 38% of global shoppers missed going to malls.

The number was the highest in China where 61% of shoppers missed going to shopping malls, statistics reveal. The same was true of 40% of Americans. Meanwhile, most French consumers (46%) missed going to fashion and apparel stores. Trips to these types of stores were most missed by women in France (59%) and their UK counterparts (43%).

(Mood Media)

As of mid-2021, 80% of consumers felt comfortable about returning to physical stores.

A survey of retail consumer trends found that only 5% of global shoppers didn’t feel at all comfortable about returning to physical stores. The discomfort mainly stemmed from the fear of catching COVID-19, which 48% of consumers worldwide felt at the time. While Chinese consumers were most worried about this possibility at 50%, French consumers were the least worried (30%).

(Mood Media)

Retail Theft Statistics

For every $1 billion earned, retailers lose $720,000 to theft.

While this is only a tiny fraction of the total revenue, it’s still significant — especially for small retailers. What’s more, the total loss has gone up from $420,000 in 2015. A 2021 survey of US retailers revealed that 61% of them had seen an increased organized crime activity in the past year. The main reasons for this growth include the rise of online commerce and smaller chances of legal persecution because retail crimes are perceived as victimless.

(National Retail Federation)

On average, retailers lost $461.88 per shopping incident in 2020.

According to retail crime statistics, the number went up by a staggering 71% from $270.06 in 2019. And although the increase in theft losses has retailers worried, the number is still lower than in 2017 ($543.28) and 2018 ($546.67). It is also well below the 2017 record-high of $798.48.


25% of US shoplifters are juveniles.

Even though the vast majority of shoplifters (75%) are 18 or older, retail crime demographics reveal that 55% of them start shoplifting in their teens. According to some estimates, there are about 27 million shoplifters nationwide. While 48% are repeat offenders, only 3% could be dubbed as professionals. Overall, only 1% of shoplifters get caught by the police. Interestingly, shoplifters seem to be more active during the winter, which is when 81% of retail thefts occur. 

(Loss Prevention Magazine)

Retail Statistics FAQ

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Retail Shopping Statistics: The Takeaway

Despite the economic crisis, the retail industry and traditional physical stores aren’t going anywhere. With North America and China as the global retail leaders, the sector has already mostly recovered from the pandemic’s adverse effects. Although many retailers filed for bankruptcy and some even had to cease their operations, retail statistics point to steady growth in the coming years. By 2025, the industry should reach a record-high $31.3 trillion in revenue.


Radovan Sekulic
Radovan Sekulic
Radovan is a journalism graduate with years of experience as a writer and editor. He loves dabbling in numbers and percentages, interpreting data, and trying to make sense of seemingly complex information and turning this into digestible articles. He is also a pop culture aficionado with boomer taste, and if he's not watching movies or reading on current events, he's probably busy getting cat hair off his furniture.