The international activities of retailers have increased in scale and complexity during the last quarter of the 20th century and this surge in international activity has generated many new questions for researchers. Albeit retailers are moving into new markets, the complexity of the internationalisation process has increased. The purpose of this study is to offer an assessment of the literature in the field of retail internationalisation in Europe and the USA over the past five decades. The paper is organised into chronological headings documenting the internationalisation issues and direction of the time. The paper concludes by exploring current industry trends affecting retail internationalisation, and looks towards the future with the effect of the digital disruption and the changing consumer.
For large retail firms’ internationalisation, has become an accepted and widely used growth strategy. International activity has increased steadily since the 1970’s with the pace of development increasing in the 00’s. This has been evident across the world with more intracontinental moves between Europe, Asia and the Americas. There has been a substantial increase in the scale and geographic scope of strategic actions of both US and European retailers but historically the internationalisation strategy of US retailers has not been the mainstream of their overall growth strategy and the focus of development has been in the domestic market.