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The Events that Defined 2023: Visualized

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This visual is part of our 2024 Global Forecast Series. For full access to the series, learn more here.

Visualization of the events that defined 2023

Visualizing the Major Events of 2023

Looking back at 2023, the year was defined by various international geopolitical events while the tech and business world kept a close eye on artificial intelligence’s advances in the first full year of the technology hitting its stride.

This graphic from our upcoming 2024 Global Forecast Report looks back at the major events that dominated the headlines and captured the world’s attention in 2023.

From the AI tech boom to the various hot and cold conflicts around the world, many of this past year’s pivotal events will have continuing aftershocks and developments to track in 2024.

This visual is from our forthcoming 2024 Global Forecast Series Report:

Global Forecast Series 2024

You can reserve full access to the forthcoming series, which compiles insights from 500+ expert predictions for what will happen in 2024, by becoming a VC+ member today.

The Major Geopolitical Events of 2023

Geopolitics were in the spotlight in 2023 after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine shifted global power dynamics and international relations towards a multipolar environment.

As a result, tensions remained high between the U.S. and China throughout the year while various conflicts continued and sprung up in other regions.

China’s COVID Reopening and Spy Balloon Amidst Russia-NATO entrenchment

In the first two months of the year China dominated news headlines as the country reopened its borders and business, ending its highly restrictive zero-COVID measures and policy. The world’s manufacturing powerhouse was one of the last nations to loosen restrictions, and many anticipated it would kickstart the final leg of the world’s post-pandemic recovery.

However, in early February the discovery of what was dubbed a “spy balloon” floating over the U.S. and Canada quickly put China-U.S. relations on edge while Russia also suspended its participation in New START, a nuclear arms reduction treaty that would’ve allowed U.S. and NATO inspections of the country’s nuclear facilities.

Finland’s acceptance into NATO in April then doubled the alliance’s border with Russia, making it a key area to watch in 2024 as a senior Russian diplomat was quoted, saying that in the event of an escalation Finland would be the first to suffer.

BRICS Expansion and Xi Jinping’s Visit to the U.S.

June brought an unexpected internal clash in Russia as the Wagner Group briefly turned against the Russian military, with the mercenary group’s leader Yevgeny Prigozhin dying a couple months later in an airplane crash.

August also brought the BRICS bloc’s announcement of the addition of six new members starting in 2024, marking a key shift in geopolitical relations as the group added major oil producers Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the United Arab Emirates, along with Egypt, Ethiopia, and Argentina.

After nearly a year of further entrenchment in the newly fractured geopolitical landscape, November saw U.S.-China relations thaw as Xi Jinping met with Joe Biden in his first visit to the U.S. since 2017.

Israel-Hamas War and Red Sea Shipping Attacks

While relations between U.S. and China improved in the last quarter of 2023, new conflicts sprung up in other parts of the world.

Hamas’ attacks on Israel on October 7th kicked off Israel’s war against Hamas, which has been followed by Houthi rebel attacks on shipping lines in the Bab el-Mandeb Strait of the Red Sea.

The low-cost drone attacks have resulted in many major shipping firms redirecting their container-ships around all of Africa (extending their journeys by as much as 25%), while the U.S. has grappled with the advent of low-cost drone warfare costing the country millions in missiles as they’ve looked to protect ships in the strait.

Both the Israel-Hamas war and rebel attacks in the Red Sea remain two of the largest question marks around global tensions and affecting supply chains going into 2024.

OpenAI’s Roller Coaster Year

It would be impossible to talk about 2023 without mentioning the roller coaster year OpenAI has had in the spotlight of the AI gold rush.

The year started with Microsoft extending its investment and partnership with OpenAI by $10 billion, as Sam Altman’s company went on to launch its more powerful GPT-4 model along with other key features throughout the year like image recognition, image generation, and deeper custom model instructions with custom GPTs.

While the year seemed to be progressing perfectly for OpenAI at the forefront of the AI hype wave, the end of November saw Sam Altman fired as CEO of the company in one of the most shocking board decisions in recent business history. Sam Altman was reinstated as CEO within 72 hours, giving the tech world just a few days of pause to reflect on the issues of governance and leadership in one of the fastest growing industries.

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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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