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14 slides on why retail trade is booming and why it matters

DESIGN: QUARTZ/BÁRBARA ABBÊS. PHOTO: UNSPLASH/ JAMIE STREET
By Chika Dunga
Published Last updated

Dreaming about making a fortune on the stock market? You’re not the only one.

Retail trade—non-professionals buying and selling securities like stocks, options, and ETFs—is booming. From January to early February this year, the largest retail trading apps were downloaded more than 10 million times. This enthusiasm culminated in the GameStop trading frenzy, which captured headlines, eyeballs, and dollars.

But the story behind retail trade’s growth goes beyond GameStop—it’s widening access to wealth through investment opportunities. Historically, the stock market was open to wealthy people and large financial institutions. But in 2019, several of the major trading platforms introduced commission-free trading. Coupled with a requirement for low or no minimum deposits, pretty much anyone can now invest.

New users—younger, less male, and less white than those before them—are flooding the stock market. Other factors, including idle time at home and more money on hand due to stimulus checks and ample savings, mean people have more cash to invest. They may even be shifting the balance of power, though some question whether the volatility is a sign that the stock market is in a bubble (most experts say it’s too early to tell).

To learn more about how retail trade works and why it matters, read our latest presentation.

Keep scrolling to see all of the slides in our e-commerce presentation. Or, if you’d prefer, you can view the PDF version or download the PowerPoint file, which includes our sources and notes. This is one of an ongoing series of member-exclusive presentations, which you can read, reformat, and use as you wish.

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