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Prices Are Skyrocketing, But Only For Things You Actually Need

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Chart: Prices Are Skyrocketing, But Only For Things You Actually Need

Prices Skyrocketing, But Only For Things You Actually Need

Everything else has fallen in price over the years

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

The way that economic data is presented, we often think of inflation as a singular number representing a general increase in prices.

For example, it might be reported that nominal GDP growth was 3%, and that inflation was 2%. Since the inflation represents a rise in price levels, we subtract it from the nominal rate to get a real GDP growth of 1%.

But in reality, price changes do not affect products and services in such a uniform and simple fashion. In the above example, all goods aren’t increasing in price at a 2% rate – that’s just an average. What really happens is that there is a full spectrum of price changes: some goods end up falling in price, while other goods get more expensive.

What’s Actually Getting More Expensive?

This week’s chart looks at the change in prices of consumer goods since 1996, using data provided by Mark J. Perry of AEI’s Carpe Diem blog.

Here’s his original chart, which is also very telling:

Price changes from 1996 to 2016

The average price increase, as shown by the CPI (Consumer Price Index), is 55% over the last 20 years. Meanwhile, the prices of individual sub-categories have a much wider variance.

The good news is that the price of technology is generally getting cheaper. Software, TVs, wireless, and new cars have all come down in price relative to the CPI. Clothing, toys, and furniture are also way more affordable than they were 20 years ago.

The bad news? Most of the above items are not the ones that really matter to most of us. The things we actually need to live healthy and fruitful lives – education, food, healthcare, childcare, and housing – are all skyrocketing in cost.

Tuition costs have soared 197%. Textbooks have more than tripled in price, going up 207% since 1996.

Taking care of our loved ones is more expensive. Healthcare and childcare costs have risen almost as much: 105% and 122% respectively.

Meanwhile, basic necessities such as shelter and food have increased at rates higher than the CPI as well. Housing costs are 61% higher and food is 64% more expensive.

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Which Retailers Operate in the Most Countries?

From fast-fashion giant H&M to Apple, we show the top retailers globally with the largest international presence.

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This treemap shows the top retailers operating in the most countries in 2023.

The Top Retailers Operating in the Most Countries

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.

Today, international expansion is a key growth strategy for the world’s top retailers as companies target untapped markets with the highest potential to drive revenue and profit streams.

While traditional retailers have sought out digital strategies as the industry evolves and consumer behaviors change, physical storefronts continue to be a dominant driver of retail sales. In 2023, brick-and-mortar sales comprised 81% of retail sales globally.

This graphic shows the top retailers operating in the most markets worldwide, based on data from the National Retail Federation.

Global Retailers With the Largest International Footprint

Here are the global retailers with the widest-reaching presence around the world in 2023:

RankingRetailerNumber of Countries of First-Party OperationHeadquarters
1H&M68🇸🇪 Sweden
2IKEA51🇳🇱 Netherlands
3Inditex45🇪🇸 Spain
4Decathlon34🇫🇷 France
5Carrefour32🇫🇷 France
6Sephora (LVMH)31🇫🇷 France
7Schwarz Group30🇩🇪 Germany
8Fast Retailing27🇯🇵 Japan
9Euronics International25🇳🇱 Netherlands
10Apple25🇺🇸 U.S.

Notably, eight of the top 10 companies with the widest market reach hail from Europe.

Fast-fashion giant H&M ranks first overall, with 4,454 stores across 68 countries last year. In 2023, the Swedish company earned $21.6 billion in revenues, with its largest markets by number of store locations being the U.S., Germany, and the UK. This year, it plans to open 100 new stores in growth markets, along with shutting down 160 stores in established locations, ultimately decreasing its global store count.

In second is IKEA, with a presence in 51 countries. Last year, the company expanded its footprint in India, launching its first store in the tech hub, Hyderabad. While the company has a broad international reach, its number of storefronts is a fraction of H&M, at 477 total stores worldwide.

Looking beyond the continent, Japan’s Fast Retailing is the top retailer in Asia, operating in 27 countries globally. As the parent company to fashion brand Uniqlo, it also stands as the seventh most valuable listed firm by market capitalization in the country.

Additionally, Apple is the sole American company to make this list, with storefronts in 25 countries. Overall, the company operates four types of retail stores: regular, AppleStore+, flagships, and flagship+. Regular stores often earn $40 million annually, while flagship+ stores typically earn more than $100 million.

By 2027, the company plans to build or remodel 53 stores globally, with the majority located in the U.S. and China.

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