Remember when expanding toLatin America pretty much was defined as openingin Mexico? A number of retailers have been thereand done that, so brands are looking even farther south, to CentralAmerica. The announcement that Cold Stone Creamerywill debut in ElSalvador during the fourth quarter is the latest sign that this region, oftenovershadowed by the larger Mexico and a number of countries inSouth America, increasingly is attractingattention.

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Walmart, for example, is opening 149 stores in Mexico andCentral America this year.

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Perhaps spurred by the expansionof the Canal, Panama, where TV networkNickelodeon opened its first retail outlet, ranks14th onA.T. Kearny's Global Retail Development Index.Other global retailers expected to open there includeMichael Kors, American EagleOutfitters, Gap, CottonOn, Ted Baker and PaulSmith.

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Costa Rica ranks 24th, but shouldmove up the ranks, says the A.T. Kearny report, as the middle classexpands. Such brands as Gap,Guess, Payless, TommyHilfiger and Aeropostale already are inthe country, the company reports.

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The result: Rents are rising, according tolocal reports. Metro areas in Costa Rica are reporting thatrents per square meter rose 13 percent over thelast two years, and new projects are being developed.

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This seems to be yet another case of getting in to a marketwhile the getting is good.

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