A key category for global retail expansion was apparel.

U.S. retailers were active expanding overseas last year, while European retailers preferred to expand to other countries within their home continent.

According to CBRE Group Inc.’s 10th annual study of international retail expansion, retailers slowed their pace of entering new markets last year to up 2 percent from a 3.1 percent pace in 2015. To gauge retailers’ expansion, CBRE surveyed 166 cities across 51 countries regarding how many international retailers had entered their markets in 2016.

As for the decelerated pace last year, Anthony Buono, chairman of CBRE’s Global Retail Executive Committee, said, “As e-commerce grows, retailers have become more deliberate and meticulous about how many stores they open and where they do so.” He added that global expansion favored “tried-and-true global gateway markets where they get the most exposure for their brands and access to huge populations with disposable income.”

Further, the study found that shifting exchange rates might also be a contributing factor in expansion within home markets instead of in countries where currencies have become expensive, such as the U.S. Moreover, the dollar’s strength relative to other currencies also likely helped U.S. retailers to remain the most active in connection with international expansion.

According to the study, 43 percent of retailers’ global expansion into new cities last year occurred in Europe, up from 36 percent in 2015. Asia claimed 28 percent of international retail expansion last year, with the Middle East and Africa at 12 percent and North America at 11 percent.

CBRE found that coffee shops and restaurants were the hottest retail category for expansion into new markets on a global basis, accounting for 22 percent of all expansion at the city level. Second were specialty apparel stores at 18 percent and midrange fashion retailers at 17 percent.

On the city level, Hong Kong — with 87 international retailers making their debut last year — was the most popular destination for expanding retailers, and CBRE noted that retail rents were receding from their recent highs. That change allowed new entrants “more affordable access” to Hong Kong’s retail real estate, CBRE said. London followed with 65 new retail entrants, followed by Dubai with 59 new retailers. Other cities that made the list included: Doha, Tokyo, Paris and Moscow.

In North America, the only city to make the list of top ten cities was Toronto, with 30 new retailers entering the market. Of the retailers who entered the Canadian city, 43 percent were from the U.S., CBRE said.

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