SHANGHAI: Retail sales growth in Asia-Pacific will be the fastest in the world over the next five years and this rapid expansion will make the region's retail sector worth $10.3 trillion by 2018, the world's largest, a recent report has forecast.

According to PwC, the professional services firm, and the Economist Intelligence Unit, retail sales in Asia and Australasia will grow 4.6% this year, rising to 4.9% in 2018, despite signs that China is experiencing slowing growth.

By comparison, retail sales volume growth in Western Europe is expected to be just 0.9% in 2018 and 2.6% in North America, Marketing Interactive reported.

Much of the growth will be driven by China and India, but the report notes that some emerging markets, Vietnam in particular, are projected to post strong growth.

China is expected to record 8.7% retail sales growth this year, falling to 7.9% in 2018, but Vietnam will be not far behind with 8.4% growth forecast for this year and 6.5% growth in 2018.

By then, the report expects strong growth in other markets too, such as the Philippines (5.5% in 2018), Indonesia (5.0%). Malaysia (4.8%), Pakistan (4.3%) and Thailand (4.3%), which will emerge from the doldrums of 2014 when the country is expected to record negative growth of -0.6%.

Meanwhile, India should continue forging ahead with 5.6% sales growth in 2015, 6.2% in 2016 and 2017, rising to 6.6% in 2018.

Not surprisingly, the region's more mature markets are not expected to produce the same levels of growth but the projections for most of them are still respectable.

Australia, for example, should deliver sales growth of 2.6% in 2015 before it falls slightly to 2.2% in 2018 while New Zealand is expected to have sales growth of 2.5% in 2018.

Similar rates in 2018 are expected in Singapore (2.9%) and South Korea (2.9%), but economic weakness in Japan will deliver retail growth of just 0.6%.

Sales volume growth is also expected to slow in Hong Kong, falling from 3.1% last year to 1.3% in 2018.

Data sourced from Marketing Interactive; additional content by Warc staff