Despite the state of the global economic, retailers – for more parts – are remaining optimistic for the year ahead with the Chinese and Indian markets offering the greatest growth prospects, according to a survey by Monash University’s Australian Centre for Retail Studies (ACRS).

On behalf of the World Retail Congress, ACRS asked 219 retail CEOs from around the world for their view of the year ahead.

“The survey rated China and India as the best growth markets globally, while Western Europe was rated as the worst growth prospect, despite the majority of current sales being from this region,” Dr Sean Sands, ACRS research director, said.

“Retailers operating in China, the Middle East, Africa and India all expected sales to increase in the year ahead, while Australia, New Zealand, North America and Central and Eastern Europe expected there to be little change.”

Although global retailers were generally cautiously optimistic about local consumer confidence, Australian and New Zealand CEOs reported the lowest level of optimism in the world.

Building customer loyalty was seen as the greatest opportunity to increase sales, with 50 per cent of retail CEOs listing customer loyalty as an important factor in expanding their market share. Store development, expansion, product development and online channel growth were also seen as important opportunities for companies to expand their market share.

Meanwhile, 34 per cent of CEOs indicating well-trained and knowledgeable staff were key to driving growth. Developing a store’s online presence, improving supply-chain efficiencies and understanding consumer behaviour were also seen as important.

The survey found 45 per cent of retail CEOs felt economic instability would have a strong impact on retail spending, while 50 per cent thought it would have a moderate impact.

“The CEOs still see economic instability and changes to consumer spending as the key threats in the year ahead,” Sands said.