Although the backdrop of ongoing economic turbulence continues, an A.T. Kearney report said developing markets offer retailers opportunities for growth.
The report contained the firm’s Global Retail Development Index, which ranked the top 30 developing countries for retail investment. China is ranked first, followed by India, Malaysia, Kazakhstan and Indonesia for the top five on the list. Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Peru and Azerbaijan rounded out the top 10. Other countries that made the top 30 include Sri Lanka (12); Jordan (13); Dominican Republic (17); Brazil (20); Côte d’Ivoire (21); Russia (22), Paraguay (25); Tunisia (26); Ghana (28) and Egypt (30). Asia-Pacific has four of the top five due to a combination of large populations and high growth.
With the economy shifting in China from an infrastructure investment model to one driven by consumer consumption, and a growing middle class combined with strong demand from inland and lower-tier cities, the report said those changes will drive growth over the next 10 years.
Not far behind is India, now the world’s fastest-growing major economy, overtaking China. Retail demand is driven by urbanization, an expanding middle class and more women entering the workforce, the report said. It also noted that India’s strong ranking reflects foreign retailers’ increased optimism in the $1 trillion retail market.
Malaysia is considered to have a business-friendly environment, although it’s also a country that’s neither huge nor growing fast. The ease of doing business there makes it a great market for small-format grocers and hypermarkets. There’s also been interest from international players, such as Chinese outdoor apparel brand Telent moving into Malaysia and South Korea’s CJ O Shopping looking to launch a new TV shopping network in the country via a joint venture with Malaysia’s Media Prima.
The A.T. Kearney report said Indonesia’s huge population — 256 million — and cities are viewed by foreign retailers as having untapped potential. It noted the government’s creation of a five-year e-commerce road map for e-commerce, which included revised regulations and plans to identify and support 200 tech entrepreneurs each year.
Although Brazil is the fourth most populous country in the Global Retail ranking, political and economic instability has hurt international investment. Retail sales have been down, with groceries and apparel hit the hardest. The luxury market has grown, though, as currency devaluation and rising international transaction taxes have reduced international travel high well-heeled Brazilians.
In Russia, mass segments, particularly in apparel, are struggling while international fashion retailers are suffering due to a fluctuating ruble and shrinking Russian incomes. Available retail space doubled at the end of 2015 as both small and large players have downsized. The luxury market have been helped by Chinese tourists because of the ruble devaluation and by Russian consumer making purchases domestically in reaction to the debilitated currency, the report noted.
For the other regions, the report said Jordan is a country with room for retail growth, although at a slow rate in part due to cautiousness as the conflict in neighboring Syria present short-term country risk. In sub-Saharan Africa, Côte d’Ivoire has “enjoyed rapid economic growth over the past four years and relative political stability after a decade-long war,” the report said, noting that citizens who fled the country are now returning and the ease of doing business in improving. Retail sales grew 8.9 percent in 2015, and a similar growth is expected through 2020 as disposable income levels grow.