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MENAFN - AFP - 15/11/2012

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(MENAFN - AFP) Hong Kong's bustling shopping district of Causeway Bay has knocked New York's Fifth Avenue off the top of the list of most expensive places to rent retail space in the world, new research shows.

The Big Apple's most famous shopping street lost its top ranking for the first time in 11 years, in a sign of the strong demand for luxury goods from cashed-up Chinese shoppers, property services firm Cushman & Wakefield said.

"The highlight of this year's survey was Hong Kong ... notwithstanding slowing economic activity, retailers continued to see the market as the ideal launching platform into mainland China," the firm said in a statement.

Causeway Bay saw a surge in leasing activity with a 34.9 percent hike in rental values to 2,630 per square foot, compared with 2,500 in New York. The Champs-Elysees in Paris climbed two places to third at 1,129.

"There has been the usual jostling for the top positions between Hong Kong and New York," Cushman's Global Retail Services chief John Strachan said.

"But of course the real message here is the unfaltering advance of the top global cities, fuelled by a shortage of supply and the interest of international brands."

Cushman's Main Streets Across the World report found that luxury retailing was driving rental growth, with stiff competition for the "most coveted" locations.

The Asia-Pacific region had five of the 10 most expensive locations in the world, thanks to its increasingly affluent middle-class.

Prime rents across Hong Kong, including Central district where luxury retailers occupy the ground floors of towers packed with the world's financial elites, grew by 21.8 percent in the year to June.

Michele Woo, senior director of Cushman's Retail Transaction Services in Hong Kong, said a new duty on foreign home buyers and uncertainty about China's leadership transition could cool demand in the months ahead.

"Hong Kong will remain the ideal launching platform into China for international retailers although we are unlikely to see these very high levels of rental growth sustained," she said.

Overall retail activity in the Asia-Pacific will remain healthy as international retailers struggle in their domestic markets, she added.


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