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In this page: Distribution | Distance selling



Types of Outlet

Clothing, Food, Cosmetics, Sports.
Walmart, Costco, Zara.
Drug Stores
Personal hygiene products, Cosmetics, Beauty products, Detergents, Sweets and Drinks.
CVS, Walmart Stores Inc., Rite Aid Corporation, Walgreens Boots Alliance.
Convenient Stores
Open 24/24.
General food, drink, everyday products.

7 Eleven, Turkey Hill, Fresh Start Convenience, Inc.
Speciality Centers (Big Chains)
Gardening, decoration and other items for decorating and fitting out the home
Home Depot, Target, Whole food, Wal Mart.
The Mall
Shopping center with several stores and fast food restaurants.
The Mall of America, King of Prussia Mall, Del Amo Fashion Center, Aventura Mall.

Evolution of the Retail Sector

Growth and Regulation
The U.S. is the undisputed world leader of the retail industry: of the world's ten largest retail companies, five are based in the country. The industry’s total GDP impact was estimated at $4.583 trillion in 2021, accounting for 19.9% of US GDP (National Retail Federation - NRF). This represent an increase of 14% compared to 2020, the highest growth rate in more than 20 years. The NRF forecasts that 2022 retail sales will grow between 6% and 8% in 2022, totalling between $4.86 trillion and $4.95 trillion. The retail industry supports more than one in four US jobs, or 52 million working Americans, making it the largest private-sector employer in the country (NRF). Companies that were the less affected by the Coronavirus crisis include food retailers, e-commerce players such as Amazon, third-party delivery platforms and major food brands (Euromonitor). Retailers were among the biggest winners of the first complete rewriting of federal tax law in three decades. According to the NRF, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has helped revive the economy by eliminating a wide range of tax benefits for businesses and using the money saved to lower rates for all businesses, large and small. The corporate tax rate has been reduced to 21% from 35%, and small business “pass throughs” have received a 20% deduction. The measure also provided relief for middle-class taxpayers.

The U.S. is the ultimate test market for exporters and is open to all kinds of new products and technologies. However, it is very spread out geographically and new products are subject to intense competition. The U.S. market is thus very demanding and requires a considerable amount of preparation, groundwork and long-term consistency. Numerous opportunities for growth exist in the U.S. retail market for retail providers of all sizes, including individual direct marketers or direct sellers, small- to medium-sized franchise unit owners, and large "big-box" store operators.
Market share
The supermarket and grocery stores industry reached USD 728.86 billion in 2020, growing at a rate of 10.1% compared to 2019 (Census Bureau, latest data available). Market segmentation is drawn along various lines, including age group, ethnic group and even social and religious groups, which has forced distributors to adapt their strategies to this situation. One of the most marked consequences of this absence of homogeneity is the emergence in the past few years of "Specialty Stores" (Home Depot, Best Buy, etc.). Specialty food stores represent 2.8% of total food and beverage stores sales (Census Bureau, latest data available). American consumers stand out for their demanding nature, the importance they attach to price and their product disloyalty. It is thus incumbent upon distributors to continuously adapt themselves to the market and to engage in well-targeted marketing efforts in order to win consumer loyalty. According to the latest figures by USDA, grocery stores, including supermarkets and smaller grocery stores (except convenience stores) accounted for the largest share of store sales (92.1%), followed by convenience stores without gasoline (4.6%). Specialized food stores, including meat and seafood markets, produce markets, retail bakeries, and candy and nut stores, accounted for the remaining 3.3% of the total.

According to NRF latest data (2022), the main retailers in US are:
•    Walmart, with a turnover of $538.15 billions in retail sales
• ($330.20 billion)
•    Schwarz Group ($158.58 billion)
•    Aldi ($134.67 billion)
•    Costco ($187.16 billion)

Retail Sector Organisations
National Retail Federation
Convenience Distribution Association (CDA)
International Council Shopping Centres
The Association for Convenience and Fuel Retailing (NACS)


Internet access
The U.S. is among the leading countries in terms of internet technology and penetration. It is estimated that about 89% of the total U.S. population has access to the internet (versus 74% ten years ago). For some demographic groups – such as young adults, college graduates and those from high-income households – internet usage is almost universal (Pew Research Center, 2018). Today, roughly three-quarters of American adults have broadband internet service at home, however the adoption of traditional broadband service has slowed in recent years, also because a growing share of Americans now use smartphones as their primary means of online access at home. In fact, about 95% of Americans now own a device, with the share of those owning smartphones at 77%. Along with smartphones, nearly three quarters of U.S. adults now own desktop or laptop computers, while roughly 50% own tablet computers and around 20% own e-reader devices. The most popular web search engines in the U.S. are led by the market leader Google, which generated 63.4% of all core search queries in 2017, followed by Bing (23.7%) and Oath (formerly known as Yahoo), with a market share of 11.9%.
E-commerce market
Since 2011 the U.S. online retail growth has accelerated and in 2017 the e-commerce represented 13% of total retail sales and 49% of the growth of the retail sector as a whole. Consumers in the US spent US$ 453.4 billion online for retail purchases in 2017, a 16% increase compared with US$ 391 billion in 2016 (data from U.S. Commerce Department). While the top two e-commerce companies - Amazon and eBay - are for the most part online-only retailers, 60% of the biggest e-commerce players are multichannel, with a majority of sales occurring in-store (Walmart, etc.). Other major online stores include Apple, Home Depot, Best Buy and Macy’s. Electronics & media is currently the leading product category in America, followed by toys, hobby & DIY. Americans are increasingly using their smartphones to browse and make purchases: it is estimated that mobile shopping represents 40.3% of total e-commerce traffic (Adobe Analytics).
Social media
Today around seven-in-ten Americans use social media, compared to 26% in 2008 (Pew Research Center, 2018). While young adults were among the earliest social media adopters, nowadays the share of users aged 50-64 has increased and is estimated to have reached 64%. Facebook is the most-widely used of the major social media platforms across all type of age groups, with 214 million users. Smaller numbers of Americans use social media such as Instagram (77.6 million), Pinterest (75 million), LinkedIn (133 million) and Twitter (67 million). YouTube is also very popular (180 million users), while instant messaging apps like WhatsApp are less common (around 20 million). For many users, social media is part of their daily routine: around 75% of Facebook users – and around 60% of Instagram users – access these platforms at least once a day.

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Distance selling

Evolution of the Sector
According to the World Federation of Direct Selling Associations, 2016 direct retail sales amounted to USD 35,540 million and involved 20,500,000 independent representatives. It is the largest direct selling country in the world, with China a close second. One in six US households are involved in direct selling. The 35-44 age group is the largest in the industry (26%) followed by the 44-54 age group (23.3%) and the 25-34 age group (21.4%). Women accounted for 74% of people involved in 2016.

Euromonitor International expects the best direct selling products - health, beauty, and personal care items - to continue growing. Direct selling companies are inviting customers to register as preferential customers that purchase directly from the company, which helps the former defend their business models are product-based instead of recruitment-based. Their online presence has also grown.

The industry faces increased competition from other self-employment options as Uber and e-commerce, as well as new entrants to the direct selling sector. Mary Kay was the leading direct seller in 2017 followed by Amway, Melaleuca and Herbalife. However, nine companies that have USD 30 million in sales in 2008 are expected to surpass USD 400 million dollars in sales.

The US lacks coherent direct selling legislation. To solve it, the Anti-Pyramid Promotional Scheme Act of 2017 (H.R. 3409) was introduced in Congress to stop pyramid schemes and differentiate them from legitimate direct selling opportunities at a federal level.

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Latest Update: April 2024