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India ripe for retail

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CHICAGO — An expanding economy and a growing middle class make India the developing country that is most promising for retail development, according to the latest Global Retail Development Index (GRDI) from management consulting firm A.T. Kearney Inc.

Recent changes in the regulatory environment is another factor cited by Kearney for placing India atop its index.

A recently released report on the index, titled “The Age of Focus,” ranked China as the developing country that is the second-most-promising for retail ­development.

Despite a slowdown in economic growth, the sheer size of China’s market and its evolving retail environment continue to make China attractive for retail investment, according to ­Kearney.

“The 2017 GRDI is all about the geopolitical scene and how it affects business,” Hana Ben-Shabat, an A.T. Kearney partner and a coauthor of the study, explained in a statement. “Retailers are thinking twice about expansion into places where there is uncertainty about future government actions or high political risk.”

Global retailers also face uncertainty as local and regional retailers grow increasingly sophisticated and competitive. “As a result, the past year has seen fewer retailers entering new markets or expanding within existing markets, as well as many retailers examining their footprints and logistics network to reduce store counts or exit markets altogether,” Kearney explained in the report, now in its 16th year.

The index ranks the top 30 developing countries for retail investment, based upon 25 macroeconomic and retail-specific variables. The index can help retailers devise successful global strategies to identify emerging market investment opportunities, explained Kearney. The accompanying report includes a section on mobile shopping and its impact on global retail expansion. “Mobile shopping is challenging the ways retailers think about global expansion, as well as about their role in the value chain,” explained Mike Moriarty, an A.T. Kearney partner and coauthor of the study.

Here are Kearney’s 30 developing countries with the most promise for retail development, in order:

• India: With a growing middle class and rapidly increasing consumer spending, India supplants China atop this year’s GRDI.
• China: Drops to second place as the market matures. China leads the pack in other areas, though, most notably ­e-commerce.
• Malaysia: Long-term prospects are strong thanks to tourists, higher disposable income and government investments.
• Turkey: Moves up two places, but challenges remain.
• United Arab Emirates: Opportunities extending beyond Dubai.
• Vietnam: Liberalized investment laws.
• Morocco: Rising on government efforts to attract foreign investments.­
• Indonesia: Continued liberalization and infrastructure ­investments.
• Peru: Outperforming on strength of two decades of solid growth.
• Colombia: Attractive despite lower-than-expected GDP growth.
• Saudi Arabia: Focus on diversification puts retail in spotlight.
• Sri Lanka: Holding steady despite sluggish GDP growth due to reduced investment from China, lower remittances and moribund export markets.
• Dominican Republic: Trade-friendly policies offset per-capita GDP that is relatively low.
• Algeria: Declining oil wealth poses challenge.
• Jordan: Gradually recovering from aftershocks of regional ­conflicts.
• Kazakhstan: Down 12 spots despite projection of economic growth through 2019.
• Côte d’Ivoire: Underpenetrated market and 8% GDP growth.
• Philippines: The outsourcing sector is boosting incomes and propelling retail growth beyond the big cities.
• Paraguay: Economy outperforms on strength of investment incentives and manufacturing output.
• Romania: A natural expansion target for foreign retailers looking to enter Eastern Europe.
• Tanzania: Debuts on index due to its fast-growing economy and underdeveloped retail ­sector.
• Russia: Its economy continues on its slow path to stabilization, but time lines unclear.
• Azerbaijan: The economy has begun to recover, but outlook dependent on oil prices.
• Tunisia: Incremental improvements across each dimension of the GRDI.
• Kenya: A growing population, rising incomes, urbanization and a property boom.
• South Africa: The apparel and e-commerce sectors are growing rapidly.
• Nigeria: A large population with a growing middle class.
• Bolivia: Natural resource exports drive a decade of 5% GDP growth.
• Brazil: Drops 9 positions on contracting economy, political chaos and record unemployment.
• Thailand: Political and security challenges hinder outlook.


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