World Market for Retailing

March 2022

During 2021, global retailing sales rebounded to surpass pre-pandemic levels buoyed by the expansion of e-commerce. While store-based sales saw recovery with the return of footfall in malls and stores, they have yet to recover to pre-pandemic levels. Thus, the channel shifts accelerated by the pandemic were seen to remain in motion, with online retail sales continuing to grow. The report explores the key trends driving the retail industry during 2022 and its outlook in the short- to medium-term

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Key Findings

A resilient rebound

Global retail sales showed a strong re-bound in 2021 with sales exceeding 2019 levels in real terms. Despite subsequent COVID-19 variants, increased inflation and supply chain challenges, the retail industry has emerged resilient and less vulnerable than other services.

Channel shifts stay on course

Channel shifts accelerated by the pandemic remained in motion, with continued growth of e-commerce during 2021. While store-based sales saw improvement with store re-opening, sales in physical stores are expected to take a few years to fully recover. Thus, physical retail continues to lose share from overall retailing with more sales shifting online.

E-commerce players reshaping competitive landscape

E-commerce players continue to increase global dominance. Among the top 10 retail companies globally, Amazon, Alibaba and JD.com stand out with their combined share exceeding the global share of the rest seven leading retail players.

New business models to re-think profitability

The long-questioned future of physical retail was answered by the pandemic, when despite e-commerce growth sales returned to stores during 2021. Thus, while stores remain relevant, retailers rethink and redefine the “utility” and “purpose” of store with new business models for optimisation and profitability.

A different tomorrow would need different strategies

The pandemic, as a big event, led to series of short-term and long-term industry shifts. Most of which are set to seamlessly evolve over the next five years, while others would be disruptive in nature driven by new technologies. Given retailers are actively engaged in understanding these trends, different strategic developments are likely to unfold over the future.

About the report
Key takeaways
Global retailing shows strong rebound during 2021
Economic recovery and strategic shifts offer springboard for growth
Channel shifts accelerated by the pandemic remain in motion
Continued e-commerce development accelerates growth in non-store retailing channel
Asia Pacific to remain the biggest region for retail sales
China to surpass the US with highest retail sales globally in 2022
Market consolidation continues in Asia Pacific, while other regions see slow down
Walmart retains global leadership, but e-commerce players break geographical barriers
E-commerce platforms from Asia Pacific dominate top-performing company ranks
Top trends shaping the retailing industry in 2022
1. Bracing for Supply Chain Recovery : I n the midst of price inflation
Supply chain constraints and increased shipping costs lead investments in fulfilment
2. Rethinking Role of the Store: From dark stores to experiential centres
Finding balance between efficiency and engagement, new models to redefine ROIs in retail
3. Delivery in Minutes: Defining industry metrics on speed
Accuracy and choice next areas for development of quick commerce fulfilment
4. Digital as the Default: Defining strategy across all stages of consumer journey
Accelerating investments in device-enabled commerce on agenda for most retailers
5. Into the Metaverse Shop: Aspirations of an experiential retailer
Zepeto, Roblox and Decentraland pave way for engagement and new forms of commerce
Strategic priorities for retailers will significantly change over the forecast period
Key takeaways
Global channel spotlight: Grocery Retailers
Global channel spotlight: Non-Grocery Specialists
Global channel spotlight: Mixed Retailers
Global channel spotlight: Non-Store Retailing
Regional industry spotlight: Asia Pacific
Regional industry spotlight: Australasia
Regional industry spotlight: Western Europe
Regional industry spotlight: Eastern Europe
Regional industry spotlight: North America
Regional industry spotlight: Latin America
Regional industry spotlight: Middle East and Africa

Retailing

Sales of new and used goods to the general public for personal or household consumption. Excludes specialist retailers of motor vehicles, motorcycles, vehicle parts, fuel. Also excludes foodservice, rental and hire and wholesale industries (Cash and Carry). Sales value excluding or including VAT/Sales Tax. Retailing is the aggregation of Store-based retailing and Non-store retailing. Retailing 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, ie retailers operating illegally, and (b) any proportion of sales generated by a registered and licensed retailer which 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 retailing. In relation to click and collect purchases (i.e. where purchases are made over the internet but picked up at store) where the sales data is attributed depends on where the payment is made: If payment is made in store, then the sale is included in store-based sales. If payment is made over the internet, then the sale is included in internet retailing.

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