With total retail sales worldwide expected to grow over the next few years, starting a retail business, whether as a side hustle or a full-time job, can be lucrative. But before you start your own business, it’s important to have an overview of the top retail companies in the world.

The latest data shows US-based Walmart sitting comfortably in first place on the list of the top retail companies worldwide. The biggest retailer in the world generated over half a trillion dollars in sales in 2020.

To reach and maintain its spot over other top retailers means requiring growing sales, which is something Walmart has achieved. From 2015 to 2020, the retailer’s compound annual growth rate (CAGR) was two percent. This is forecast to increase to three percent from 2020 to 2025.

As the biggest retailer in the world, it’s a given that Walmart’s also the top US retailer. In fact, a good majority of Walmart’s sales come from its home market—only 22 percent of its 2020 sales were from international purchases.

Walmart’s lead over the second-biggest retailer in the world, Amazon, is an impressive one. At $268.2 billion, Amazon’s sales in 2020 aren’t even half of that of Walmart’s. 

That said, the Jeff Bezos company is actually charting a much faster growth rate than Walmart. Amazon’s CAGR from 2015 to 2020 was a whopping 24 percent. This is, however, expected to halve to 12 percent from 2020 to 2025.

Third on the list of the largest retailers worldwide is yet another US company: Costco. In 2020, Costco generated $156.6 billion in sales.

Together, these three top retailers brought in $952 billion in global sales. And with such strong performances, analysts are expecting them to hold on to their spots as the three largest retailers in the world all through to 2025.

Next on the list is German retailer Schwarz Group, whose 2020 retail sales topped $133 billion. It is also the only non-US company in the top five. In fifth place is Ohio-headquartered Kroger with $124.9 billion in retail sales.

Of the top retail companies worldwide, six of the top ten are from the US, three are in Europe, and the only company from Asia to feature is China’s JD.com. These ten largest retailers generated $1.7 trillion in retail sales in 2020, around 7.5 percent of total retail sales worldwide.

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