MOSCOW: Retail sales in Russia will rise by 3% next year, with many multinational firms hoping to expand their presence in the country in order to tap into this growing market, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Total retail revenues stood at $480 billion (€319bn; £288bn) in the European nation last year – up by 27.5% on an annual basis – with food taking a 45.3% share of this figure.

PricewaterhouseCoopers has predicted that 2009 will be a year of "consolidation" given the challenges of the economic downturn, with the following 12 months delivering an uptick of 3% overall.

Dale Clark, PwC's retail and consumer practice leader for Russia, said "with a 140 million population, it's the largest market and still has low saturation of modern retail."

"As a result, it is still a very attractive market for international consumer products producers."

However, Carrefour, the French grocery giant, recently announced it would withdraw from Russia, just four months after opening its first two stores in the country.

By contrast, Wal-Mart, one of its major rivals, has stated an intention to further develop its operations there, having previously been linked with numerous takeover deals.

Metro, the German conglomerate, entered the emerging economy in 2001, and now has around 70 outlets, while Auchan, its compatriot, also currently runs more than 30 hypermarkets locally.

Clark further argued "we are working with a number of international companies who are looking at investments into emerging markets including Russia."

"That's part of the reason why we know that Russia is still one of the headline countries for new investments," he added.

Data sourced from Reuters; additional content by Warc staff