LONDON: Tesco lost its position as the world's third-largest retailer and two-thirds of vendors suffered from shrinking profits in the last fiscal year, according to a new study from Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu.

The accountancy firm said Wal-Mart had retained its top ranking over the 12-month period, covering fiscal years ending June 2009, with French hypermarket chain Carrefour and German firm Metro rounding out the top three.

Globally, retailers suffered a decline in average profits from 3.7% to 2.4%.

European stores suffered the sharpest drop, with typical net earnings falling from 4.1% to 2.7%, while the Middle East and Africa were the only regions where retailers saw an increase in profits.

Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu also highlighted a slowdown in sales growth for retailers during the fiscal year, reflecting the economic turmoil caused by the credit crunch which has put consumers' budgets under pressure.

This trend was predicted to continue into 2010, particularly in regions where consumers hold relatively high levels of personal debts.

Report author Ira Kalish said: "Many retailers 'bought' sales with heavy promotions which hit the bottom line hard."

Kalish added: "Countries that borrowed heavily to finance excessive consumer spending may experience slower consumer spending growth as households struggle to de-leverage, repair tattered balance sheets and accumulate wealth."

Data sourced from Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu; additional content by Warc staff