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 2021, a 3.5 percent annual increase from 2020.

To reach and maintain its spot over other top retailers requires growing sales, which is something Walmart has achieved. It’s done this by increasing the different channels through which consumers can purchase from them. This, in turn, attracted higher-income shoppers who would normally turn to Amazon.

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. In its financial year ending January 2022, only 17.8 percent of its total sales were from international purchases.

Walmart’s lead over the second-biggest retailer in the world, Amazon, is an impressive one. At $330.2 billion, there’s a whopping $207.95 billion in sales separating it from Walmart. That said, the Jeff Bezos company charted a much faster growth rate than Walmart. Amazon’s sales increased 17.7 percent from 2020 to 2021, five times more than Walmart's. 

Third on the list of the largest retailers worldwide is yet another US company: Costco. In 2021, Costco generated $187.16 billion in sales. Together, these three largest retailers brought in over $1 trillion in global sales. 

Next on the list is German retailer Schwarz Group, whose 2021 international retail sales topped $158 billion. It is also the only non-US company in the top five. In fifth place is Georgia-headquartered The Home Depot with $142.27 billion in retail sales.

Of the top retail companies worldwide, half of the top ten are from the US, with Walgreens as the other US retailer on the list. Three, mainly Schwarz Group, Aldi, and Carrefour, are from Europe, and two, Alibaba and Seven & I, are from Asia. In total, these ten largest retailers generated over $1.9 trillion in retail sales in 2021.

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