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In a new list of countries that are the best market opportunities around the globe, China ranks first – and the United States comes in seventh.

The list, compiled by Retail Forward, also ranks the United Kingdom, Thailand, Russia, Spain and Vietnam as being countries that are more attractive for retail expansion than the US.

The US, however, beats out Canada, Taiwan and Malaysia on the list of top ten global retail markets.

The rankings are based on estimates of relatively low risk and forecasted growth in each country.

In its summary of the results, Retail Forward notes that Asia is the dominant player in terms of market potential, with five countries among the top ten, with Europe having just three countries (the UK, Spain and Russia).

Latin America is considered to have the worst potential, with Argentina, Mexico, Brazil and Chile all at the bottom of the total rankings of 33 countries.

In a listing of countries by current retail sales, the US is clearly on top, followed by Japan, China, the UK, France, Germany, Italy, India, Russia and Spain.

And the US also has half the world’s top ten retailers – with Wal-Mart leading the way, followed by Home Depot in third place, Kroger in fifth, Target in seventh and Costco in ninth. Rounding out this list are France’s Carrefour (2), Germany’s Metro AG (4), the UK’s Tesco (6), the Netherlands’ Ahold (8), and Germany’s Aldi Group (10).
KC's View:
What this tells you, we think, is that for some of these US retailers to remain on the top ten list, they may have to be as aggressive as Wal-Mart in exploiting emerging markets for future sales…or will have to merge with other giants in order to keep up. Companies like Carrefour, Tesco and Aldi have been very active in this arena, and if US companies are to keep up, they’ll have to do the same.

Now, these numbers are for total retail sales, not just grocery…though the top rankings for grocery sales stay pretty much the same with the exception of Home Depot. Interestingly, a new report from think-tank IGD released yesterday suggested that Tesco’s growth curve means that it almost certainly will move into third place in world grocery sales…behind only Wal-Mart and Carrefour, and leap-frogging both Metro and Ahold.

It’s a whole new world out there, and the landscape is shifting all the time.