According to a new International retail report by CBRE, China was the top market in Asia Pacific and the fourth most popular destination globally, with 27% of retailers looking to expand there.
The next highest ranked Asia Pacific markets were Hong Kong in sixth position (24%), Japan in seventh (22%) and Singapore in ninth (21%). European markets dominated the top destinations this year.
The findings come despite a slowdown in retailer expansion in China and Hong Kong amid weaker consumption growth.
Retailers nevertheless continue to see these locations as their most important markets and are responding to the slowdown by adjusting their portfolio strategy.
Retailer interest in Japan increased significantly in this year's survey, with 22% of retailers surveyed indicating they plan to expand in this market in 2016, compared to 16% in 2015.
This market is benefiting from solid domestic consumption and strong spending by inbound tourists.
The weaker yen continues to support the entry and expansion of foreign retailers, particularly those from the United States and Europe.
Expansion in Southeast Asia is set to surge this year, with retailer interest in Malaysia (10.5%), Indonesia (9.2%), Thailand (8.5%), Vietnam (8.5%) and the Philippines (7.8%) more than doubling compared to 2015, when all markets registered between 1-3%.
While there are strong positive indicators, retailers generally remain cautiously optimistic towards the retail environment in 2016.
When asked to identify the risk factors likely to affect them in the coming year, real estate cost escalation (56%) and unclear economic prospects (42%) were their top concerns, a finding similar to last year.