Even in Downturn, Retail Grows More Global

Even though an uncertain economic outlook will force many retailers to delay their global expansion strategies for the moment, retail itself is becoming more global every year, an annual survey by CB Richard Ellis Inc. has found. The 280 leading retailers surveyed were present in an average of 16.5 countries by the end of last year. That represents a 12 percent uptick from 2007, when the retailers had stores in an average of 14.7 countries. more countries by the end of 2008 than they were the previous year. A principal engine for growth was European luxury retailers, especially from Italy, France, the United Kingdom and Spain, along with the United States. All told, each luxury retailer established a beachhead in an average of 3.4 new countries last year. Clothing and footwear retailers were another significant source of growth in 2008, tallying an average of 1.9 new countries. Retailers are increasingly venturing not only beyond national borders, but beyond regional borders as well, the CBRE study found. Forty percent of new store openings took place outside the retailer’s home region in 2008. A handful of countries climbed several steps up the ranking of those becoming notably more global: Saudi Arabia, which moved from 31st place to 15th place; Kuwait, which moved up 11 spots to no. 19: Canada, in 18th place after finishing no. 30 in 2007; and China, which edged up four spots to no. 6. European countries took seven of the top 10 positions for the most global retail markets. Topping the list was the U.K., where 58 percent of \top global retailers were represented. Other top 10 European nations included Spain, France, Germany, Russia, Italy and Switzerland. Rounding out the top 10 are United Arab Emirates, China, and the U.S., which slipped from seventh to 10th place in the rankings. That downward shift occurred because the percentage of global retailers represented in the U.S.–39 percent–remained unchanged while the percentage of retailers grew in several other top markets. But the report emphasizes that cities rather than countries are increasingly the main attraction for leading retailers. London ranks No. 1., like the United Kingdom. Dubai surged to fourth place, a sign not only of its development boom and appetite for international goods but also its effective networks of franchise partners, which facilitate expansion. New York City, in third place, is the only U.S. city represented among the most global retail cities. Also in the top 10 are Paris, Madrid, Moscow, Berlin, Munich, Barcelona and Tokyo. .