Retailing Global Industry Overview

March 2020

The global retailing industry is undergoing a transformation, as e-commerce continues to grow, both as a channel and as a means of interacting with shoppers. This briefing serves as a guide to the current state of play, surveying key regional and channel trends, as well as the five most important global trends for the next five years.

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This report comes in PPT.

Examining five trends shaping retailing

Asia is the future

China will be the fastest growing retailing market over 2019-2024. While it will not happen in the next five years, it is not difficult to imagine China becoming the largest retail market in the world within the next 10 years.

The permanent shift to e-commerce

In 2020, e-commerce will become the largest channel globally, accounting for 15% of sales. In 2024, that proportion will be 20%. Retailers will need to respond to the permanent consumer shift to buying online.

Squeezed middle classes

With stagnant incomes, the middle class, especially in developed countries, are more value-orientated than ever. Retailers must bear this in mind when it comes to their own positioning and their competition.

Omnichannel retail is a necessity

Advances in technology have reshaped consumer behaviour, and the shopping journey is no different. Retailers will need to adapt, blending digital and physical experiences to meet consumer demand for a seamless shopping experience.

Ethics inform consumers’ shopping decisions

Sustainability and ethical consumption choices are becoming increasingly relevant to consumers across industries, and retailing is no exception.


Examining five trends shaping retailing
Areas of opportunity
Retailing sales growth to remain relatively stable
E-commerce drives non-store retailing to be the top growth channel
The digital revolution is happening at different speeds
China and the US show the greatest growth opportunities
The retail industry is fragmented
Walmart struggles while Alibaba thrives
E-commerce bolsters Chinese retailers
Key megatrends shaping global retailing
Examining five trends shaping retailing
The Asian century will reshape the retailing landscape
Connected Consumers will be mobile-first
Middle-income consumers want maximum value
Omnichannel shopping will become the norm
Ethical consumption is on the rise
Global snapshot of grocery retailers
Global snapshot of non-grocery specialists
Global snapshot of mixed retailers
Global snapshot of non-store retailing
Regional snapshot: Asia Pacific
Regional snapshot: North America
Regional snapshot: Latin America
Regional snapshot: Western Europe
Regional snapshot: Middle East and Africa
Regional snapshot: Eastern Europe
Regional snapshot: Australasia


Retail is the sale of new and used goods to consumers from a business for personal or household consumption from retail outlets, kiosks, market stalls, vending, direct selling and e-commerce. Retail is the aggregation of Retail Offline and Retail E-Commerce. Excludes specialist retailers of motor vehicles, motorcycles, vehicle parts. Also excludes fuel sales, foodservice sales, rental transactions, and wholesale sales (e.g. Cash and Carry). Sales value excluding or including VAT/Sales Tax. Retail also excludes the informal retail sector. Informal retailing is retail trade which is not declared to the tax authorities. Informal retailing encompasses (a) sales generated by unregistered and unlicensed retailers, i.e. retailers operating illegally, and (b) any proportion of sales generated by a registered and licensed retailer that is not declared to the tax authorities. Unregistered and unlicensed retailers operate predominantly (although not exclusively) as street hawkers or operate open market stalls, as these channels are harder for the authorities to monitor than permanent outlets. Activities in the illegal market, which is usually understood to refer to trade in illegal, counterfeit or stolen merchandise, are included within our definition of informal retailing. Activities in the “grey market”, which is usually understood to refer to trade in legal merchandise that is sold through unauthorized channels – for example cigarettes bought legally in another country, legally imported, but sold at lower prices than in authorized channels – will be included as informal retailing if no tax is paid on sale by the retailer. However if the retailer pays tax – for example on cigarettes bought legally in another country but sold at a lower price than standard – the sale is included within formal retail.

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