LONDON Hong Kong's Causeway Bay shopping district has broken the $3,000 (1,877 pounds) per square foot barrier for the first time in 25 years to retain its billing as the world's most expensive retail area, according to a survey by property consultant Cushman & Wakefield.
Fuelled by competition between luxury brands and everyday convenience retailers for limited space, the average retail rent in the Causeway Bay area rose 14.7 percent from a year earlier to its highest level in the survey's history, Cushman said.
Long considered the gateway to China, firms are willing to pay high prices for a spot in space-squeezed Hong Kong, where the three premier shopping destinations top the list of Asia Pacific's most expensive locations.
After losing top spot for the first time in 11 years to Causeway Bay in 2011/12, New York's Fifth Avenue stayed in second spot with average retail rents unchanged from 2012 at $2,500 per square foot.
That was still almost $900 per square foot ahead of its nearest rival, Paris's Avenue des Champs-Elysess, even though rents there soared 38.5 percent to $1,601 per square foot, C&W said. London's New Bond Street took fourth place with a 15.6 percent rise in rent to $1,047 per square foot.
Globally, retail rents at prime locations rose on average by 3.2 percent, with the Americas the strongest region, increasing by 5.8 percent, according to the review of the top 334 shopping destinations across 64 countries.
Rents in Asia Pacific rose by 4.5 percent, led by strong demand in Hong Kong that helped offset the impact of slower trading in China's luxury sector and lower consumer spending in South Korea.
Europe recorded a 2.1 percent rise, with only 7 of the 33 countries surveyed recording rental falls despite challenging markets.
(Reporting by Neil Maidment; Editing by Susan Fenton)