[slideshow_deploy id=’1782′] With a total area of 8,123 square miles (21,040 km²), and a population of approximately 6 million, El Salvador is the smallest country in Central America with one of the highest population densities in the region and the third largest economy behind Guatemala and Costa Rica. El Salvador enjoys macroeconomic stability, low inflation, and one of the lowest interest rates in Latin America. GDP for the first half of 2011 grew at 7.6% up from 2.3% in the same 2010 period and is estimated at US$43 billion (PPP). Real per-capita income for 2010 was estimated at $3,500 (World Bank). El Salvador retail market is one of the most active and stable in Central America.
The U.S.-Central American-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) entered its 4th year of implementation in El Salvador on March 1, 2010. CAFTA-DR has created a more active, clear and efficient trade procedure in which consumers are expected to receive all the benefits.
Like the rest of Central America, El Salvador offers an open market for U.S. goods and services. Tariffs were relatively low for U.S. products and were reduced further with the implementation of CAFTA-DR. The value-added tax (VAT) is relatively high at 13 percent.
As in other Central American countries, El Salvador retail market is dominated by supermarkets. Major retailers have expanded the number of stores and floor space during the last few years. Calleja S.A, which owns Selectos, operated 84 stores in 2011, Walmart is the largest retailer in Salvador with 77 units, including 2 Walmart Supercenters, 50 Despensa Familiar, and 25 Don Juan, the third player is Europa with 4 units, and Pricemart is fourth with 1 unit. There are 10 new scheduled supermarket opening for 2011. El Salvador has three convenience store chains: Select Market, Tiger Market, and Starmart-Food Marts, which are owned by Shell, Esso (Exxon) and Texaco.
El Salvador retial market features some of Central America’s best known malls such as Multi Plaza with over 400 stores, restaurants, multiplex theater, and stores such as Nine West, Benetton, Kenneth Cole, Nautica, Tony Roma’s, etc. Galerias Mall features over 130 stores such as Simans, Liz Claiborne, Radio Shack, Swatch, Puma, MAC store, Vendome, Imaginarium, Benetton, Hallmark, Levi’s, Nautica, Perry Ellis, Polo Club, Aldo Nero, and food outlets such as Sbarro, Pizza Hut, McDonalds, Wendy’s, The Bagel Factory, Subway, and Sushi Ito. La Gran Via is one of the newest malls and it features 60 shops with retailers such as Zara, La Curacao, Starbucks, Benihana, Bennigans, and a 8-screen Cinemark theater.
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