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Visualizing the Decline of Freedom Over 12 Consecutive Years

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Visualizing the Decline of Freedom Over 12 Consecutive Years

Visualizing the Decline of Freedom Over 12 Consecutive Years

The Chart of the Week is a weekly Visual Capitalist feature on Fridays.

Like many other things in this world, the amount of freedom that people have ebbs and flows with time.

In general, it can be argued that political and economic freedoms have been increasing steadily since The Enlightenment – but of course, there are always shorter corrections along the way where freedom seems to spiral downwards in the interim.

Right now, we’re in one of those ruts, and global freedom has consecutively declined for a 12 year period.

Democracy in Crisis

Freedom in the World, a report published every year since 1973, attempts to measure civil liberties and political rights around the world. It’s put together by Freedom House, a non-governmental organization based in the United States.

According to their index, here is the share of “free” countries globally between 1973-2018:

Freedom over time

This year’s report for 2018 is entitled “Democracy in Crisis”, and it sounds the alarm on eroding freedom throughout the world.

Falling Scores

While the number of “free” countries is holding fairly steady at close to 45%, there is a clear downtrend with the scores of the countries themselves.

In 2017, for example, there were 71 countries that had net declines in score, while only 35 had net increases. This makes for a differential of -36, which is the widest gap during the 12 year downtrend.

YearImprovedDeclinedDifferential
20065659-3
20074359-16
20083860-22
20093467-33
20103449-15
20113754-17
20124363-20
20134054-14
20143362-29
20154372-29
20163667-31
20173571-36

Why do scores continue to decline?

Here are some of the specific examples, cited by the report:

  • The erosion of democratic norms in the U.S., which is actually the extension of a seven year trend
  • The expansion of influence from key autocracies, particularly Russia and China
  • Turkey’s transition from “Partly Free” to “Not Free” – the result of President Erdoğan asserting more control over the country
  • Big drops in the scores of European countries like Poland and Hungary, where populist leaders are consolidating power
  • Another drop in Venezuela’s score, as the country undergoes a full-blown humanitarian crisis
  • A recent backslide in the scores in Arab Spring countries – even in Tunisia, which was heralded as a democratic success story

For much more in-depth reading, here is a link to the full report PDF.

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Retail

The World’s Top Retail Companies, by Domestic Revenue

As price pressures and e-commerce reshape shopping behaviors, we show the top retail companies by domestic revenue around the world.

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This circle graphic shows the world's top retail companies by domestic revenue.

The World’s Top Retail Companies, by Domestic Revenue

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

The retail sector plays a vital role in powering economies, contributing $5.3 trillion annually to America’s GDP alone.

Moreover, the industry is America’s biggest private-sector employer, responsible for one of every four jobs, or 55 million employees. Yet in today’s challenging consumer environment, retailers are facing higher e-commerce penetration and inflationary pressures—across an industry notoriously known for razor-thin margins.

This graphic shows the world’s top retail companies by domestic revenue, based on data from the National Retail Federation.

Methodology

To be included in the rankings, companies must engage in a goods-for-consumer resale business accessible to the public and have direct selling operations in a minimum of three countries.

The rankings include both publicly and private companies, and are based on the most recent 52-week period analyzed by the National Retail Federation between January and March 2024. All revenue figures were converted to U.S. dollars.

Ranked: The Top 10 Global Retailers by Domestic Sales

Here are the leading retailers worldwide based on domestic sales as of 2023:

RankingRetailerDomestic Retail Revenue
(USD)
Share of Total Retail RevenueHeadquarters
1Walmart$532.3B85%🇺🇸 U.S.
2Amazon.com$250.0B70%🇺🇸 U.S.
3Costco$175.4B75%🇺🇸 U.S.
4The Home Depot$142.0B94%🇺🇸 U.S.
5Walgreens Boots Alliance$105.1B89%🇺🇸 U.S.
6Alibaba$91.5B97%🇨🇳 China
7Apple$70.9B87%🇺🇸 U.S.
8Aeon$64.3B93%🇯🇵 Japan
9Schwarz Group$56.5B32%🇩🇪 Germany
10Rewe$55.5B75%🇩🇪 Germany

Walmart towers ahead as the world’s largest retailer with $532 billion in domestic revenue—more than Amazon.com and Costco combined.

Known for its everyday low prices, Walmart achieves a competitive advantage through pricing goods approximately 25% cheaper than traditional retail competitors. Overall, groceries make up more than half of total sales. While its main customer base is often low and middle-income shoppers, the retail giant is seeing a surge in sales from higher-income customers as shoppers seek out lower grocery prices.

E-commerce giant, Amazon, is the second-biggest retailer globally, commanding nearly 40% of online retail sales in America. Since 2019, the number of Amazon employees has grown from 800,000 to over 1.5 million in 2023.

While the company has tried to introduce online grocery platforms to the market, it has largely fallen flat given its clunky system in a highly competitive market.

Like Amazon, China’s e-commerce juggernaut, Alibaba, stands as a leading global retailer. Overall, 97% of revenues were generated domestically through online marketplaces Taobao and Tmall. In recent years, the company has focused on international expansion, delivering products to 11 markets including America, in just five days.

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