Chinese retail sales continue to soar in contrast to countries hit by the global downturn, ensuring the market will remain one of the most appealing to international retailers.

Retail sales in China soared 20.2 per cent in the first two months of this year, according to China’s National Bureau of Statistics. Sharp upward inflation and increased holiday spending over the Chinese New Year helped drive sales growth to an 11-year high.

However, while rocketing Chinese retail sales are expected to remain strong this year, the high levels of growth are unlikely to be sustained beyond 2008.

MHE Retail chairman Edward Whitefield said: “US buying budgets will be constrained this year, so exports are likely to reduce. This will mean that growth in 2009 will be nearer to 10 per cent, which is still a more attractive place to be for retailers than many of the mature Western markets.”

Retail giants including Carrefour, Tesco and Wal-Mart are taking advantage of the thriving economy with major roll-outs across the country. US fashion chain American Apparel is also set to launch three shops there this spring.

Whitefield added: “There are heavily populated sites outside the main cities that have hardly been touched by the big retailers.”