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India’s Retail Revolution: Record Growth in Retail Leasing Led by International Brands

Key Takeaways

• India’s retail sector experiences record growth

• International brands drive leasing activity

• Luxury market sees significant expansion

• Retail real estate poised for future growth

The Surge in Retail Leasing Activity

In an unprecedented retail boom, India’s retail sector witnessed a staggering 47% year-on-year growth in leasing activity in 2023, setting new records and reshaping the retail landscape. This surge is largely attributed to the influx of international brands seeking to capitalize on India’s burgeoning market, alongside a significant uptick in the luxury segment, which experienced a remarkable 162% surge. Such dynamism in the retail sector underscores the robust demand and consumer confidence prevalent in the Indian market.

International Brands Fueling Growth

The catalyst behind this remarkable growth has been the entry and expansion of international brands within the Indian market. According to recent reports by CBRE, about two dozen international brands made their foray into India in 2023, with existing global brands also expanding their presence. This influx is not only a testament to India’s retail market potential but also signals the country’s growing appeal as a key destination for retail investment on the global stage.

Luxury Market Explosion

Amplifying the retail leasing boom is the luxury market’s exponential growth. In 2023, luxury brands leased an impressive 600,000 square feet of retail space, marking the highest in six years. The share of luxury brands in overall leasing surged to 9% in 2023, up from 3% in 2018, according to CBRE data. This surge is indicative of a robust demand from premium consumers and highlights a notable shift in consumer preferences towards high-end luxury goods and experiences.

The Future of Retail Real Estate in India

Looking ahead, the landscape of retail real estate in India is poised for a transformative journey. The record-breaking leasing activity in 2023 lays a solid foundation for sustained growth in the coming years. Industry experts predict a continued upward trajectory, driven by resilient discretionary spending, robust retail consumption, and easing inflationary pressures. Moreover, the evolving aspirations of Indian consumers, particularly in smaller cities and towns, are expected to fuel the expansion of premium brands, further energizing the retail sector.

Additionally, the retail real estate market is expected to benefit from the dynamic shifts and strategic initiatives currently shaping the Indian real estate sector at large. The ascendancy of Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) and a conducive environment for rental growth are among the key factors that will contribute to the sector’s robust outlook. With an estimated asset under management (AUM) reaching INR 18,000 crore in FY 2025, the Indian real estate sector is on the brink of a renaissance, promising lucrative opportunities for investors and retailers alike.

Conclusion

India’s retail sector’s record-breaking leasing activity in 2023 is not just a reflection of the market’s current dynamism but also a harbinger of the bright prospects that lie ahead. Driven by the strategic entry and expansion of international and luxury brands, the sector is set to continue its growth trajectory, reshaping India’s retail landscape. As the sector gears up for future trends, stakeholders across the spectrum — from investors to retailers — are poised to witness and partake in India’s retail revolution, marking a new era in the country’s economic development.

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