Bogotá, Colombia. Photo: Juan Varela/Flickr
By Charles Whiteman
SVP Client Services, MotionPoint
A recent story in El Tiempo, Colombia’s largest newspaper, announced that 30 major international brands are eyeing the country as a hot market to launch new retail efforts. Several high-profile Spanish fashion brands were on the list, as were icons such as Abercrombie and H&M.
Fashion is one of several major growth markets in Colombia. The country has already seen a 6.2% increase in catalog and online fashion sales over 2014’s sales, the El Tiempo story reported. Recently, Colombia has seen store launches for Gap, Victoria’s Secret, Dolce & Gabbana, Burberry, Zara, Mango, Frey Wille and others.
Why are these companies—and others, in other industries—expanding into Colombia? Credit years of economic growth, governmental reform, and improved infrastructure (including investments in Internet and mobile web access).
According to the 2015 Index of Economic Freedom, Colombia now has the third-largest economy in Latin America (surpassed only by Brazil and Mexico). In the past 15 years, the country’s GDP (PPP) grew from $120 billion to nearly $700 billion. Poverty levels dropped more than half during the same time period.
This has greatly strengthened Colombia’s middle class. Household spending is up, unemployment is down, and the middle class “is poised to spend more,” AT Kearney analysts wrote last year. “(A) surge in credit card offers has helped increase spending on products and services that would otherwise be …
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