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The Global Context

Retailers that lead in the UK have a global reach, as this heatmap illustrates

MUCH OF THE ANALYSIS that goes into understanding which names make up the UK’s leading retailers comes from the UK context. This heatmap, completed using data sourced from InternetRetailing Knowledge Partners Hitwise and SimilarWeb , puts the IRUK Top500 in a global context.

It’s a way of mapping the interest that potential customers from around the world have in the retailers that form the UK index. The strongest interest in these companies comes from those who have a language in common, in the United States, and from near-neighbours in France, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands. But this map also shows the reach that retailers that lead in the UK have around the world, with significant amounts of traffic coming from the Russian Federation, Japan, India and China, with small but measurable amounts from the Solomon Islands and Tonga.

Of course, some of those featured on the IRUK Top500 list are not themselves headquartered in the UK. Amazon and Toys R Us from the US appear on the list alongside European retailers H&M and Estée Lauder . But the list is also a useful reminder that retail is now very much a global business. Very few of the UK Top500 target only UK shoppers. In any case, the internet knows no borders and as long as they have a connection, shoppers can and will visit a retail website whether they are in Manchester or Morocco – and whether Brexit happens or not.

As InternetRetailing research extends to other geographies, researchers will be looking to see how far interest in retailers trading in those geographies extends. Certainly, it seems from work to understand other global markets, such as the RetailX ASEAN Top500 and the RetailX Australia Top250, that some of the same names reappear.

But it’s also likely that UK retailers have a wide reach because of the widespread use of the English language, and because this is a market where local retailers are doing well, perhaps through an openness to technology and to innovation. These are factors that should stand UK retailers in good stead in a post-Brexit world. Rather than looking inwards to the domestic market for future growth and market opportunities, it seems very likely that traders will continue to look beyond the shores of these islands.

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