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The Regulatory Burden in the U.S. is a Whopping $4 Trillion

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One of the big problem with regulatory policy is that typically new regulations are only added – never subtracted.

A good example of this is the federal tax code, which is now 74,608 pages long.

It’s an astonishing 148x longer than it was under President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal:

Federal Tax Code Complexity

If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Regulators add new regulations to “solve” problems, but there is much less political will to actually go back and sort through any outdated, ineffective, or convoluted regulations of the past.

Over time, this has created a massive regulatory burden that continues to snare the growth potential of many industries. According to one study, the cumulative effect creates a burden with a dollar value greater than the GDP of many of the world’s largest economies.

Regulatory Burden in the U.S. is a Whopping $4 Trillion

The following graphic comes from a recent study by the Mercator Institute and it shows that the U.S. regulatory burden alone is bigger than the economies of Germany, France, Brazil, Russia, or the U.K.

Regulatory Burden is $4 trillion

The full study focuses on how regulatory accumulation, or the buildup of regulations over time, changes the approach that businesses have in making decisions and investments that could lead to innovation and technological growth.

These changes affect the economy, and a core finding of the study is that U.S. growth was reduced by an average of 0.8% per year from 1980 to 2012 due to this regulatory accumulation. An exponential effect is created over time as companies are forced to invest fewer dollars into activities like R&D and hiring new staff. Instead, they must divert money and time to areas such as compliance or acquiring licenses.

There are now over one million words denoting “constraints” in the Code of Federal Regulations – and the total size of the code is roughly 180,000 pages according to Mercator’s database.

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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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