The boom in consumption in China, Brazil, India and Russia (BRIC) markets, driven by an expanding middle class and a growing urban population of young people, is opening up significant opportunities for retail real estate professionals and these ‘new’ consumers operate at the cutting-edge of technology and are highly demanding in their expectations concerning both physical and digital commerce. In fact, PricewaterhouseCoopers confirms the advance of digital commerce in these countries as Internet access has grown strongly and high penetration rates for telephones and tablets encourage the use of new technologies and social networks in purchasing behaviour.
With an e-commerce industry growing at an average of 71% a year between 2009 and 2012, China is becoming a leader in this sector. With a middle class now benefitting from increased credit facilities and a new national minimum wage, Brazil is another special-case market. Shopping centres that once were mostly concentrated in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, are now spreading out over the country. By adopting a reform at the end of 2012 that opens up retail real estate to foreign investors, India is set to kick-start deep-seated changes in the coming years. International retailers are queuing up to enter the Indian market, in the footsteps of the Swedish giant Ikea, which has finally received permission to open 25 stores in the country after lengthy negotiations. Russia itself is poised to overtake the UK for the first time to become the second-largest shopping centre market in Europe.
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