When was the last time you went shopping?
Even if it was ordering groceries online a few seconds ago or stockpiling toilet paper a couple months back, all of us contribute to the trillion-dollar retail industry.
But what do we really know about this industry, and what can the latest retail statistics teach us?
Key Retail Facts and Stats to Prepare You for the Future of Retail
- Global retail sales generated $23.95 trillion in 2018.
- The retail market is expected to reach almost $29.8 trillion by 2023.
- Walmart is the biggest retail company in the world.
- In 2019, e-commerce accounted for 10.7% of the total US retail sales.
- Contrary to popular belief, 82% of millennials still want to shop at brick-and-mortar stores.
- Online and offline integration is expected to be one of the biggest trends in retail in 2020.
- The holidays are still the most important time for retailers.
- Retail is the biggest private-sector employer in the US.
- Retail sales in the US went down by 16.5% in April 2020.
- Sales of packed foods and beverages in the US have increased since the outbreak.
Retail covers almost everything we buy, from cars and clothes to medicine and meals. It drives the economy, supports the wholesale and manufacturing industry, and creates millions of jobs.
But that’s not all.
Read through these fascinating retail industry statistics and facts to learn more about the retail sector and find out what’s in store for this ever-changing industry.
Global Retail Statistics
Despite the decline in consumer spending over the past two years, the global retail market is expected to grow, albeit at a slower rate than five years ago.
At that time retail sales annually increased between 5.7% and 7.5%.
1. Global retail sales generated $23.96 trillion in 2018.
Going up from $22.97 trillion in 2017 (a 4.5% increase), the value of the global retail market is expected to reach $26.07 trillion by the end of 2020.
2. The US is the biggest retail market in the world.
Increasing ever since the end of the 2007–2008 financial crisis, US retail sales in 2018 reached around $5.3 billion.
3. China is set to take over as the number-one retail market.
(China Daily, Business.com)
China is the fastest-growing consumer market and currently represents the biggest e-commerce market in the world.
Annual online shopping statistics show that sales are about $672 billion, or around 15.9% of the country’s total retail sales.
4. The retail market is expected to reach approximately $29.8 trillion by 2023.
However, the realization of these predictions about retail trade all depends on how the coronavirus situation develops.
In the US, for instance, the retail sector was expected to increase by between 3.5% and 4.1% in 2020.
These estimates, however, did not account for the pandemic and the impact it would have on retail.
The Biggest Retailers in the World
Most of the top retailing companies in the world are based in the US.
American companies Walmart and Amazon not only dominate the domestic market, but they’re also the biggest retailers on the planet.
The Kroger Co., Costco, and Target are other examples of leading United States retailers that generate millions in revenue every year.
5. Walmart is the biggest retail company in the world.
It reported $514.4 billion in revenue in 2019, around 76% of which is generated from United States retail sales.
Walmart currently has 11,300 stores operating in 27 countries across the globe.
6. Amazon is the biggest global online retailer.
(Statista, Digital Commerce 360)
Amazon’s net revenue has been growing since 2004, reaching an incredible $280.5 billion in 2019.
Even though profits fell as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, online retail statistics show that Amazon’s worldwide sales in Q1 2020 went up by 26%.
7. Seven & I Holdings has the highest number of retail stores.
The parent company of the 7-Eleven retail chain had 44,400 stores in operation around the world in 2018, more than any other retailer.
The Schwarz Group was second, with 7,398 retail stores, followed by Walmart, with 6,360.
Online and In-Store Retail Statistics
Online and in-store retail shopping is becoming more integrated than ever before.
Today, 73% of shoppers are omnichannel customers, meaning they use multiple channels when shopping, blurring the lines between online retail and brick-and-mortar stores.
8. In 2019, e-commerce accounted for 10.7% of total US retail sales.
(U.S. Chamber of Commerce)
This number is expected to increase, online shopping statistics indicate, primarily due to shelter-in-place orders and growing fear of the COVID-19 virus.
In fact, 58% of US residents have bought more items online than they would have because of COVID-19.
9. Brick-and-mortar stores accounted for 90% of all retail sales in 2019’s third quarter.
Despite all the talk of the death of in-store shopping and retail stores closing due to the economy, the brick-and-mortar retail channel generated a staggering $21.7 trillion in 2019.
10. The number of retail stores in the US surpasses one million.
For each retail company closing a store, 5.2 are opening new establishments.
Even in the department store category, there are more retailers opening stores than closing them. A total of 27% vs. 19% to be exact.
11. The main reason shoppers prefer brick-and-mortar stores is the ability to feel and touch a product before buying it.
Up to 62% of shoppers cited this as the main reason for choosing in-store shopping over online retail stores.
49% said they prefer stores to the internet because this way they can get items at once.
On the other hand, approximately 20% of respondents pointed to easy returns as the primary reason for preferring physical stores.
12. Contrary to popular belief, retailing statistics show that 82% of millennials still want to shop at brick-and-mortar stores.
And they aren’t the only ones.
As for the baby boomers, 84% prefer to shop in-store, and digital-native Gen Z-ers also opt for physical shops.
The buy online, pick up in-store trend, is quickly gaining popularity among this age group.
Retail Industry Trends and Tendencies for 2021
Technological innovation and advances are some of the biggest trends in retail this year.
The application of 5G technology alone is expected to translate to a staggering $9.5 billion in additional revenue for the US e-commerce sector in 2020.
13. Online and offline integration was expected to be one of the biggest trends in the retail industry in 2020.
This doesn’t just include online retailers opening physical stores. Traditional retailers are expected to branch out even more into e-commerce, as well.
14. AR (Augmented Reality) is another big trend in retail.
Augmented Reality allows shoppers to visualize the product they want to buy.
Last year, analysts predicted that 100 million consumers would shop via AR, a trend that’s likely to become even hotter during the coronavirus lockdown.
15. A 2019 study showed that incorporating personalized experiences boosts revenue by 25%.
One of the aspects shoppers claim is missing from online retail stores is the personal touch.
Customization of products and personalized experiences are expected to be even bigger this year, particularly among the biggest online retailers.
16. According to US retail industry statistics, 22.9% of consumers say they try to buy from retailers they believe are environmentally conscious.
(Coresight Research, Forbes)
Sustainability is a big concern among shoppers, particularly with younger generations.
73% of millennials said that they were willing to pay more for sustainable products, while 62% of Gen Z-ers prefer making purchases from these brands.
17. The holiday season is still the most important time for retailers.
The holidays account for 20% of annual retail sales.
For some categories, it’s even higher. November and December retail sales make up 30% of hobby, toy, and game stores’ annual sales.
Jobs in the Retail Sector
The retail industry directly employs 29 million people in the US.
They hold anything from entry-level positions to top managerial posts, whether it be in a small retail business or a huge retail chain.
18. Retail is the biggest private-sector employer in the US.
(U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Forbes)
The US retail market supports 52 million jobs in the country. Estimates show that 20% to 25% of the nation’s workforce is employed in a retail environment.
19. The average retail salary for a sales associate is between $17,931 and $35,620.
This translates to a median hourly wage of $10.94.
Some companies offer higher salaries, such as The Home Depot, where average reported salaries are $11.73 an hour, but others like JCPenney provide lower-than-average rates: $9.66.
20. The average retail manager salary ranges from $27,000 to $71,000.
CVS reportedly offers the highest salaries for this role with the average pay being $57,969.
In contrast, GameStop is on the other end of the spectrum, with average salaries for retail managers at around $36,731.
21. Retail employment is projected to decline by 2% from 2018 to 2028.
The number of retail sales workers is expected to drop from 2018, from 4,768,900 to 4,663,700 in 2028.
The job outlook for parts salespersons will only decrease slightly, by 1%.
The COVID-19 pandemic has hit all industries, and retail is no exception, although some categories in this industry haven’t been negatively affected.
Analysts estimate that once shelter-in-place orders are lifted, the retail market should start to recover.
However, real recovery won’t happen until a vaccine is developed, dashing all hopes of an increase in May retail sales across all categories.
22. Retail sales in the US went down by 16.5% in April 2020, the latest retail sales report shows.
Clothing stores, witnessing a drop of 78.8% in sales in April 2020, are followed by furniture stores with a decline of 58.7%.
Sports and hobby stores, as well as restaurants and bars, are next, with sales going down 38% and 29.5%, respectively.
Overall, the revised U.S. retail sales forecast for 2020 shows losses of $430 billion in revenue in the third quarter.
23. Sales of packed foods and beverages in the US have increased since the outbreak.
Not all sectors have been hit.
Sales of drinks and packed food went up by 10% compared to last year.
Vegetarian and vegan items have been flying off the shelves, with sales of oat milk going up by 347% and the sale of meat alternatives increasing by over 200%.
24. Sales of paper products increased by 59% in March 2020 compared to last year, US retail sales data reveal.
Home care products generated the second-highest increase in sales (40%).
Other non-edible categories that saw a spike in sales as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic include personal care (19%), pet food and care (7%), and general merchandise (4%)
February retail sales in 2020 went down 0.5%, showing that the retail sector was in trouble even before the COVID-19 pandemic struck.
26. What percentage of the economy is retail?
According to sales data from the National Retail Federation, the US retail sector contributes around 25% of the country’s annual GDP.
27. Was retail down in 2019?
Retail sales in America decreased by 0.3% in September 2019. This is the first decrease in the seven months leading up to it.
According to the Commerce Department, the biggest decline was registered in the automotive industry (0.9%).
Meanwhile, sales of furniture and home furnishings decreased by 0.6%, and online retail went down by 0.3%.
August retail sales in 2019, on the other hand, recorded an increase of 0.6%.
28. Is the retail industry growing or declining?
The coronavirus has affected different sectors differently. Some businesses, such as grocery stores, saw an increase in sales (13.2%).
However, others, like clothing stores (which were hit the hardest), witnessed a decline of 78.8% in April 2020.
Wrapping It Up
The so-called “retail apocalypse” has been in the works for almost a decade.
Still, the latest retail statistics show that the industry is far from dying—it’s merely changing.
Thanks to the inclusion of new technologies, personalized experiences, customized products, and omnichannel shopping, retail is an evolving industry.
It will continue to be the lifeblood of the global economy for many years to come.
- China Daily
- Coresight Research
- Digital Commerce 360
- Retail Dive
- Retail Dive
- The Balance
- U.S. Chamber of Commerce