China is now the most attractive emerging market for apparel retailers, according to A. T. Kearney's latest Apparel Index, and already, several brands have aggressively entered the market.
PHV Apparel Group (perhaps best known for its signature brand, Izod) plans to open 3,000 stores in China over the next five years. Likewise, Italian retailer RDM has invested $910 million to develop five luxury outlet centers there, and Gap, Inc. opened stores in Beijing and Shanghai late last year.
According to A. T. Kearney, China's growing middle class is expanding its buying behaviors beyond traditional venues.
"Retail formats in China are diversifying beyond traditional department stores. Chinese consumers are beginning to shop at venues such as hyper markets, specialty stores, outlets, discount stores and online," Hana Ben-Shabat, a partner with A.T. Kearney and co-leader of the 2011 Apparel Index study, said.
The United Arab Emirates ranked second in the 2011 Apparel Index, driven by a population with a high disposable income and immense fashion consciousness. In addition, as A. T. Kearney points out, the expatriate populace and tourism also drive consumption in this market. Plus, the UAE is both a regional commerce center in the Middle East and a preferred market for entering the Middle East, as well as for testing new products and retail formats.
The Retail Apparel Index is calculated on a scale from 0 to 100. It includes analysis of the clothing market attractiveness (60 percent), levels of retail development (20 percent) and country risk (20 percent). Country risk indicators include political and financial risk, business readiness and business cost of crime, terrorism and corruption.
Here are the 2011 Apparel Index "top ten," along with each country's overall score:
1. China 61.4
2. UAE 58.9
3. Kuwait 48.6
4. Russia 46.4
5. Saudi Arabia 43.9
6. India 42.0
7. Brazil 40.1
8. Turkey 37.4
9. Vietnam 37.3
10. Chile 36.9
A full copy of the report is available at www.atkearney.com/grdi.