The United States and China are the world's largest and second-largest retail markets, respectively, by total retail sales. This is nothing particularly new; the U.S. has been the leading retail market for decades, but some forecasts show China overtaking it by 2018 to 2020. China already has the largest e-commerce sales in the world; the U.S. comes in second. Rounding out the top five retail sectors are the United Kingdom, Japan and Germany.

It is not very surprising that these five countries represent the largest retail sectors. Japan, Germany, the U.K. and the U.S. are historically great industrial powers with very high standards of living. China makes up for its relatively low standard of living of $13,000 PPP per capita versus $54,000 PPP per capita in the U.S., with an overwhelmingly large consumer base.

Mobile Retailing

Mobile retailing is the fastest-growing segment of the retail sector. The National Retail Federation, or NRF, estimates that by the end of 2015, some 65% of the world's population will have mobile phones. It also estimates that an astonishing 83% of Internet usage will work through handheld devices.

China and the U.S. account for more than 50% of the mobile retail market. However, mobile retail saturation is highest in the U.K. where nearly 15% of all retail sales take place through an Internet connection.

The U.S. Retail Sector

The U.S. retail sector has gross annual sales in excess of $5 trillion at 2014 figures, which accounts for more than 20% of the entire global market. Not only do Americans buy the most retail, but American companies dominate the global retail space.

According to the NRF, half of the top 10 retailers are from the U.S., and nearly 100 of the top 250. Walmart is the undisputed king of retail, with total global revenue figures about 4.5 times as high as second place Carrefour.

  1. What portion of the global economy is represented by the retail sector?

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  2. What has the retail sector evolved to its current structure?

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  3. What factors are the primary drivers of share prices in the retail sector?

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  4. What profit margin is usual for a company in the retail sector?

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  5. How does stock evaluation of an electronic retailing (e-tailing) business differ ...

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  6. What are the most popular companies in the retail sector?

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