Even though the global economy is expected to decelerate in 2012—and U.S. economic growth is expected to remain sluggish, with unemployment lingering above 8%—retailers might see improvement in their profit margins as commodity prices stay low and retail price inflation advances, according to the fifteenth edition of “Global Powers of Retailing,” by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu and STORES Media.
The outlook for U.S., the report notes, is tied to a strange mix of political inertia, economic disarray, and a decline in real disposable income and consumer confidence. And yet consumers in the U.S. continue to spend–behavior attributed in part to the fact that many Americans have paid down debt, the dollar remains weak, and retail inventories remain lean. All in all, it’s a “lukewarm” environment for retailers, but nonetheless positive.
In terms of the way people shop, the report says, retail activity will continue to increase online and build on mobile platforms, although bricks-and-mortar stores will remain “the core of retail,” though not necessarily the final shopping destination.
Happily, the “Global Powers” research includes a number of handy lists, including one of the top 250 global retailers, ranked by 2010 sales. Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) tops the list with $418.9 billion in sales, although Target (NYSE:TGT) doesn’t quite make the top 10–it’s No. 11, with $65.7 billion in sales. Five U.S. retailers made the top 10 and a total of nine made the top 20.
Others high in the global ranking include Kroger Co. (NYSE:KR), which landed at No. 5 ($82.1 billion), Costco (NASDAQ:COST), which took the No. 7 spot, and Walgreen (NYSE:WAG), which took the No. 9 spot ($67.4 billion). CVS Caremark (NYSE:CVS) took No. 13 ($57.3 billion), Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) took No. 19 ($50.2 billion), and Lowe’s (NYSE:LOW) took No. 20 ($48.8 billion).
Sears Holding (NASDAQ:SHLD), the tenth U.S. company on the global retailers list, came in at No. 22 ($43.3 billion). Safeway (NYSE:SWY) was next, at No. 24 ($40.2 billion), and Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) landed at No. 28, with 2010 retail sales of $33.2 billion.