A study to find out what motivates international retailers to expand to new markets or not provides insights to the real estate opportunities and challenges emerging markets can offer. The survey, conducted by Los Angeles-based CB Richard Ellis, asked 300 leading retailers their views on 16 emerging retail markets.

The most critical issue for the majority of respondents is availability of suitable retail space. Overall, 80 percent of survey respondents said they would reconsider plans to enter a market if their preferred real estate format is unavailable.

India topped the list of most attractive emerging retail markets, with 27 percent of retailers surveyed opening stores there or actively planning to do so. The Ukraine was a close second with 24 percent, and Russia, Malaysia and Turkey rounded out the top five.

Economic growth in emerging nations has expanded the size of the middle class and created real income growth, boosting consumer spending and retail growth, which now averages 3 percent to 4 percent, compared to 1 percent to 2 percent in mature Western markets.

The survey's big surprise, notes Naveen Jaggi, CBRE senior managing director for Retail Services, is that international retailers no longer consider the United States the ultimate destination and, in fact, view U.S. markets as very mature, highly competitive and homogenized.