Rising retail spending in Asia is a natural corollary caused by growing incomes and wealth. Over 2001 to 2016, real disposable personal income is estimated to have grown at an average annual rate of 11.5% in China, 7.5% in India, 6.6% in Vietnam and 5.7% in Malaysia. In addition to overall income, the size of the middle class in Asia has expanded, as millions come out of poverty due to strong economic growth. The average annual growth in the number of household earnings is clearly outpacing more developed counterparts in the region. The trend is expected to continue as the forecasted share of the Asia-Pacific region in the global middle-class is likely to rise from 28% to 66% in between 2009 to 2030.
In 2001, the aggregate nominal retail sales for 11 key Asian economies, excluding Japan, was approximately US$1 trillion, accounting to just 41.9% of the total retail sales in the United States. Nevertheless, the phenomena has changed over the next 15 years. In 2016, the sales for the Asian economies have surged to an estimated US$ 6.6 trillion, tremendously surpassing in comparison the U.S retail sales of US$ 3.9 trillion. As shown in Figure 3, China has led the surging sales, while the remaining Asian economies have also shows sign of steady growth (Barua 2017).
Figure 3: Retail Sales by Countries
The Great Retail Apocalypse which happened in the U.S. during 2017 may have disrupted the confidence of investors in the retail industry. There is no doubt that traditional brick and mortar businesses will be impacted in the developed countries. However, this may not be, in the case of the Asia-Pacific. Unlike developed countries, which have overbuilt brick and mortar retails, emerging markets in the Asia-Pacific region is on the rise, in economic growth and development. Supported by rising income, consumer spending power in the region will not be dampened. According to Thompson (2017), rather than spending power, it is consumer spending habits which have shifted from traditional shopping to online shopping.
Regional retail growth will continue to be propelled by online retail sales, lower commodity prices and disposable income growth, along with macroeconomic stimuli and government policies. Asia is expected to continue to be a driver of global retail growth, and to introduce innovation in e-commerce and customer shopping experience (Ghasemi 2017). In the Asia-Pacific, online retails sales have hit US$1.5 trillion in 2015, and it is forecasted to reach US$ 1.89 trillion by 2018 as shown in Figure 4, with CAGR of 28%. In addition, the region’s shares of global digital retail spending accounts for 52.5%, which accounts for the majority of the world market. The growing pace of retails sales in the Asia-Pacific is also 10% higher in comparison with other countries.
Figure 4: Retail Ecommerce Sales in Asia-Pacific Countries and Worldwide
The rapid growth in the Asia-Pacific, coupled with faster internet service and greater mobile uptake, is heating up the competitive landscape, where large local players are increasingly vying for market share by improving their logistics and mobile platforms. In some other cases, moving entirely to an app-only service. In 2015, retail ecommerce accounts 10.2% of all retail sales in Asia-Pacific and is projected to rise to 20.4% by 2019, compare to the worldwide average of 7.4% and 12.8%, respectively (eMarketer, 2015)