Upbeat outlook for Asian retail market

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EVEN after the season of giving, the coming year ushers in the world’s most energetic and exciting retail market for Asia, Colliers International forecasts, as consumers in the region look for venues not only to shop, but also to jovially spend time with family and friends.

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The year 2016 will see Asian consumers continue to drive retails sales up, according to the global real estate services firm’s report.

Citing data from the Economist Intelligence Unit, Colliers said retail sales in Asia are projected to grow by 4.8 percent in 2016, surpassing the global average of 3.2 percent.

Colliers said the general outlook for Asia remains upbeat despite concerns about the long-term sustainability of some of China’s more ambitious developments.

Colliers said the coming year gives investors an opportunity to look into contributing to the relatively narrow retail gene pool of specialty occupiers of shopping centers in the region.

“Investors in existing assets will be well-advised to look at cycles in mature markets and to use softening rents as a good opportunity to be imaginative about remixing and repositioning assets,” Colliers said.

The property advisor also said while it forecasts vacancies in the Asian retail market, it also sees a significant appetite for retail owners to diversify.

“They [retail owners]are in prime position to occupy their own developments with made-to-suit retail concepts,” Colliers said. “These could be either domestically grown concepts or portfolios of brands acquired overseas.”

The report emphasized that the consumer market in the region is not merely driven by pure utilitarian acquisition of physical goods but also in spending time with friends and family outside small urban domiciles.

“We see these behaviors evolving into twin trends, with a desire for experiential retail, and a concept of wellness and lifestyle,”said the report.

It noted that the consumer market seeks out brands and environments that help to improve one’s life or provide leisure-based experience.

“A prime example of this would be the amorphous blending of female sports and leisurewear around themes of beauty, mindfulness and yoga by activity-specific brands and mainstream retailers alike,” noted the report.

Colliers noted that China seems to be following other regional markets such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Korea and Japan as it aspires to build portfolio relationships with trusted mid-market Food and Beverage(F&B) quality chains.

“Indeed, global mid-market F&B superbrands and Asia-specific F&B superbrands are for the most part underrepresented in China. For this very reason, we believe there is significant opportunity for midmarket aspirational global F&B players to increase their Asian portfolios. We expect their activity to increase in 2016,” said the report.

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