India has emerged as the world's most attractive destination for mass merchant and food retailing, maintaining its 2005 position in an annual study of retail investment attractiveness among 30 emerging markets.
India was given the top ranking in management consulting company A T Kearney's 2006 Global Retail Development Index (GRDI).
"The Indian retail market is gradually but surely opening up, while China's market becomes increasingly saturated", said Fadi Farra, a principal in A T Kearney's Consumer Industries and Retail Practice and leader of the GRDI study.
Much to the surprise of market observers, China was ranked fifth in this year's tally, declining one more place since 2005. While China remains very attractive, the market is becoming increasingly saturated as international retailers rush to establish a presence and build market share, the study reveals.
According to the study, Asia with a large 40 per cent of the top 20 markets has surpassed Eastern Europe as the 'dominant region for global retail expansion.'
"The learning is that timing is the most important source of competitive advantage for global and regional retailers in the globalization race. Knowing when to enter emerging retail markets is the key to success," said Farra.
Powering Asia's charge are Vietnam, which has risen five places to third place, and countries like Thailand, South Korea and Malaysia, all of which are in the top 15, the report said.
After topping the ranking for two consecutive years in 2003 and 2004, Russia slipped to second place behind India last year and remained there in 2006 too.