This site uses cookies to provide you with a more responsive and personalised service. By using this site you agree to our use of cookies. Please read our cookie notice for more information on the cookies we use and how to delete or block them.

Bookmark Email Print page

Global retail revenues continue to increase despite economic woes

Revenues from the world’s 250 largest retailers reached $4.3 trillion; increased divestments resulted in a shake-up among the wo


14 January 2014: Despite tough economic conditions, revenues for the world’s 250 largest retailers reached US$4.3 trillion* in the last fiscal year (June 2012 through June 2013).  The average size of the top 250 retailers exceeded US$17 billion according to the 2014 Global Powers of Retailing report from Deloitte, in conjunction with STORES Media.  For the first time ever, the report also includes a list of the world’s top 50 e-retailers** and found that more than three-quarters of them (39 companies) are part of the top 250 retailers globally.

“The global retail industry got off to a difficult start in the last fiscal year,” said David White, Deloitte Australia Partner and retail industry leader said. “However, it is encouraging to see that the world’s leading retailers were able to plough on through the difficult period and continue to grow.  Despite the challenging conditions, nearly 80 percent of the top 250 (199 companies) retailers posted an increase in retail revenue. Interestingly, some of the largest retailers undertook a number of sell-offs and restructures in order to maintain profitability and help to ride out the tough trading period,” White added.  

Australian outlook

“The relative strength of the Australian economy has persisted and as we identified in this report last year, overseas retailers continue to target our shores to exploit relatively strong consumer spend. This year global fashion giants Uniqlo (Fast Retailing) and H&M are opening stores in Melbourne and it is rumoured Next and River Island who have been selling to Australia via their online stores are now planning to open physical outlets,” continued White.

“In a pre-Christmas survey*** 53% of domestic retailers believed that Australian consumer confidence will increase in 2014. The initial signs are that the key festive sales period was solid, if not spectacular, something which will only continue to heighten the interest of overseas retailers monitoring the Australian market,” said White.

Asian growth opportunities

“As this inbound trend continues to gather momentum, our proximity to the emerging retail markets in Asia is putting additional pressure on Australian retailers to exploit outbound opportunities. With the right strategy local retailers are well placed to take advantage of the growth in consumer spending taking place in a number of Asian markets. In 2014 as competition continues to ramp up at home we expect to see more Australian retailers seeking the growth opportunities available through international expansion in to Asia,” said White.

Woolworths and Wesfarmers

Wal-Mart continues to be the world’s largest retailer, with other changes in the Top 10 largely driven by divestments and currency fluctuations. The exception to this is Costco which has leapt from sixth, to third in the Top 10 due to its double digit growth.

According to White, “This year our home grown retailers Woolworths and Wesfarmers continue to maintain their impressive position in the top 20 global retailing powers. In this year’s rankings, Woolworths is up two places to 15th, meanwhile Wesfarmers dropped one spot to 19th.”

Global insights

Divestments lead to a shake-up of the top 10 global retailers

There was a shake-up among the world’s 10 largest retailers last fiscal year, mostly as a result of a series of divestments. As a group, the top 10 grew more slowly than the top 250 in the past fiscal year with retail revenue growth of 4.2 percent versus the 4.9 percent growth in the previous fiscal year. While Wal-Mart increased its lead, Carrefour—formerly the world’s second-largest retailer—fell to fourth place following back-to-back years of declining sales primarily attributable to the spinoff of the Dia hard discount chain in July 2011. Tesco, which jumped this year to second place, was also impacted by discontinued operations after shuttering its Fresh & Easy operations in the United States.

Emerging markets enjoy strong demand while Europe increases dependence on foreign markets

Retailers based in emerging markets continued to enjoy strong consumer demand in fiscal year 2012. Unlike the headwinds retailers in mature markets faced, emerging market tailwinds continued to fuel aggressive organic growth. Emerging market retailers accounted for more than half (26) of the world’s 50 fastest-growing retailers in fiscal year 2012 including all four Russian top 250 companies, six of seven Africa/Middle East retailers, and six of nine based in Latin America.

European retailers faced another year of tough trading as the region fell back into recession when austerity measures, put in place to cope with the Eurozone credit crisis, resulted in low growth and high unemployment in many European countries. Retailers based in Germany and particularly the UK underperformed on the top line compared with Europe’s top 250 retailers as a whole.  

Asia/Pacific retailers (excluding Japan) posted solid gains, but not at the double-digit level seen in the prior two years. Japanese retailers recovered from a devastating fiscal year 2011 but continued to trail the other countries and regions analysed.

In the United States, growth cooled to 4.3 percent for the top 250 U.S. retailers, down from 6.3 percent in fiscal year 2011. For the North American region as a whole, and Canada in particular, revenue growth got a boost from corner store operator and licensor Alimentation Couche-Tard. As a result of a significant acquisition in 2012, Couche-Tard is now the largest retailer based in Canada.  

Top 250 dominate e-retail ranking

E-commerce accounted for a significant share of total retail revenue for the e-50 in fiscal year 2012 accounting for nearly one-third of company sales, on average (including the pure-play e-retailers). The vast majority of the e-50 (42 companies) in the e-retail ranking are multi-channel retailers; only eight are non-store or web-only retailers. Most e-50 retailers are based in the United States (28) and Europe (17), and only five are emerging-market companies.

E-commerce activity was also analysed for the top 250 as a whole. Top 250 companies with e-commerce operations generated an average 7.7 percent of their sales online in fiscal year 2012. From a regional perspective, North American retailers received a larger share of their revenues from e-commerce than European retailers. Online sales grew fastest for Asia/Pacific retailers and slowest for North American retailers.

To download a copy of the 2014 Global Powers of Retailing report, please visit:

Notes to editors

Top 10 retailers:

Retail revenue rank (FY12)

Name of company

Country of origin



Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.




Tesco PLC




Costco Wholesale Corporation




Carrefour S.A.




The Kroger Co.




Schwarz Unternehmens Treuhand KG




Metro AG




The Home Depot, Inc.




Aldi Einkauf GmbH & Co. oHG




Target Corporation












e = estimate

*Companies were ranked by total retail revenue, not just retail sales. For purposes of this analysis, retail revenue includes royalties and franchising/licensing fees as well as wholesales sales to affiliated/member stores or other “controlled wholesale space” operations (e.g., in-store shops or identity corners).

**E-retailing, as defined in this analysis, includes B2C e-commerce only (i.e., where the company owns the inventory and the revenue reflects e-retail sales). Companies that primarily operate as e-marketplaces are excluded from the e-50 list as their revenues are largely derived from fees and commissions on sales from third-party sellers (consumers or other businesses that own the inventory) rather than directly from the sale of goods.

*** Deloitte Christmas Retailers’ Survey Counting on Christmas, October 2013

About the 2014 Global Powers of Retailing Report
The 2014 Global Powers of Retailing report identifies the 250 largest retailers around the world and provides an outlook for the global economy, trends for retailers to consider in the coming months, and an analysis of market capitalisation in the retail industry.

NB: See our media releases and research at

Follow us – @DeloitteNewsAU

Last Updated: 


David White
Job Title:
Partner and retail industry leader
Tel +61 2 9322 5228
Johnny Sollitt-Davis
Deloitte Australia
Job Title:
Corporate Affairs & Communications
Tel: +61 3 9671 6177, Mobile: 0431 134 850




Follow us


Talk to us