Bogota, ColombiaLocated at the northwest corner of South America, Colombia is the only country in the region with coasts on both the Caribbean and Pacific Oceans, with a continental area of 1.141.748 km2 (440 829 square miles) and 928.660 km2 (358 555 square miles) of maritime dominions.

Colombia shares borders with Panama, Venezuela, Brazil, Peru and Ecuador, and maritime limits with Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Jamaica, Dominican Republic and Haiti.

Colombia’s consistently sound economic policies and aggressive promotion of free trade agreements in recent years have bolstered its ability to face external shocks. Real GDP grew 4.6% in 2014, and inflation ended the year at 3.7%, continuing almost a decade of strong economic performance. The Santos Administration’s foreign policy has focused on bolstering Colombia’s commercial ties and boosting investment at home. The US-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (FTA) was ratified by the US Congress in October 2011 and was implemented in 2012. Foreign direct investment, notably in the oil sector, reached a record $13.4 billion in 2011climbing to $15.6 in 2012; and $16.2 in 2013.

ECONOMIC INDICATORS*20092010201120122013
GDP growth
Consumer spending 2.813.510.43.04.0
Manufacturing production-
Investment -32.6-5.598.716.77.8
Unemployment rate (%) 12.011.810.810.49.6
PLZ/US$ (average)
Interest rates 10-year (%) -71-75-44-19-55
NOTE: *annual % growth rate unless otherwise indicated. E estimate F forecast
Source: Banco de la República, DANE.

Population 48 million (2015F)
GDPUS$ 380 billion (2014F)
Public sector balance -2.4% GDP (2014F)
Parliament Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition
Chief of StateJuan Manuel Santos
Election datesMay 2018
Source: DANE, MinHacienda, LatinFocus

Source: LatinFocus

Bogotá7.9 million
Medellin2.5 million
Cali2.4 million
Barranquilla1.2 million
Cartagena1.0 million
Source: DANE

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Bogota: 4.598056, -74.075833
Medellin: 6.235925, -75.575137
Cali: 8.848460, -75.607715
Barranquilla: 10.964210, -74.797043
Cartagena: 10.483659, -75.457778


Alpina, Grupo Nutresa, Colanta, Colombina, Diana, Industria Colombiana de Café, Alqueria.


Cadbury Adams, Nestlé, Pepsico, Bimbo, Parmalat, Coca Cola, Alimentos Polar.


Studio F, Leonisa, Cine Colombia, Panamericana.


Fallabella, Zara, Sony, LG, Panasonic, Adidas, Challenger

Food & Beverage Operators

McDonald’s, El Corral, Subway, Sandwich Qbano, Burger King, Frisby, Kokoriko, Pizza Hut, Dominos Pizza, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Taco Bell, Papa John’s.


Colombia’s sustained growth over the past decade, even amidst global economic uncertainty, has made it an appealing market for investors and multinationals around the world. This appeal, in conjunction with the implementation of a neoliberal economic model, has fostered the development of international commerce in the country, bringing benefits such as greater economic growth, cheaper imports, the blooming of new technologies, the stimulus of foreign competition, and a very important increase in foreign direct investment. In addition, the growth in liquidity and the availability of capital has increased the standard household’s purchasing power and debt capacity, benefiting the retail sector in general.

Colombia has 480 shopping malls as of June 2012. Half are classified as shopping galleries (no anchors). About 2% of the shopping centers in the main three cities of the country, (Bogota, Medellin and Cali), have more than 500 stores. Two thirds of the shopping malls in these three cities account for less than 5,000 sq.m. of commercial space. The past five years have witnessed 10% growth in openings of power centers (2 or more anchors), which represent 4% of total shopping centers in the country. Shopping galleries receive around 19,000 weekly visits, many fewer than power centers, which receive between 100,000 and 500,000 visits per week.

Colombia’s outlet development is considered a present but still undeveloped opportunity; 48% of shopping malls have discount programs during the year. February and August are the preferred months for discounts.  

E-commerce in Colombia lags in comparison to the region, representing only 2% of online sales in Latin America (about US$860 million), despite the fact that Colombia is one of the more connected countries in the region in terms of internet usage. In 2012, however, e-commerce in the region is expected to grow by 26%. In 2013 growth is expected to be 28,5%, driven by security and consumer trust, social platforms, government reforms and growth in electronic payment methods like credit cards.

It is possible to enter the Colombian retail market directly, although many brands also choose to franchise or enter via concessions/shop-in-shops.

Although it is possible to occupy a new building within a few weeks, it is more realistic to expect an average time of 6-12 months from initiation of a propery search to occupation of an existing property.  This includes time for considering location options, identifying buildings or sites, negotiating leasehold or freehold terms, and drafting the appropriate legal documentation.

New Entrants to the Market

Tiffany & Company Starbucks CoffeeKrispy KremeSally BeautyJimmy Choo
Johnny RocketsAbercrombie & FitchAmerican Eagle

Lease TermsColombian leases are typically for 10 years. Break options were rare in the past but now increasingly negotiable. In the absence of a clear agreement in the lease, the tenant has no legal right to break so long as the landlord fulfils his obligations. Where agreed, breaks are typically at the first rent review for office and industrial space but are not currently common for retail unless it’s stated in the contract. The authorized use will depend on the terms of the lease, which will also state the degree to which this may vary by tenant.
Rental PaymentRents are typically payable monthly and in advance. Turnover/percentage rents are increasingly seen in shopping centres and common in specialist sectors such as factory outlets, hotels and airports. A security deposit is not normally required for a tenant with a strong covenant or where an insurance company guarantee (or less frequently a bank guarantee) is provided. For weaker covenants, a CDT (term deposit certificate) may be required, by negotiation with 6 months rent equivalent being commonplace. Premium payments are common in the retail market in times of rising rents and limited supply, with values boosted by the 5 year review pattern of rents.
Rent ReviewIndexation is common and is generally equivalent to IPC (consumer price index) + 3-5%. The basis of the rent review is the open market rental value (upward only even where rents generally have decreased) usually incurred every 5 years if it is stated in the contract.
Service Charges, Repairs and Insurance A service charge is usually payable in multi-tenanted buildings and covers management fees, security, cleaning, landscaping, internal maintenance of common parts, external maintenance and insurance, servicing of elevators, water, heating, air conditioning, management fees and property taxes. It excludes internal maintenance and insurance of rented accommodation, utility charges and VAT. The landlord is responsible for external /structural matters in shopping centres (charged back via service charge) or tenant (except in multi-let buildings). The tenant is responsible for internal matters. The landlord usually insures the main structure and external fabric but will charge this back to the tenant. Insurance for common parts is also paid by the landlord and charged back. The tenant usually pays for internal insurance directly.
Property Taxes and other costs The municipal authority charges a local property tax payable on commercial property (roughly equivalent to 40% of rent). The government sets rateable value every 5 years. A standard rate (the Uniform Business Rate or UBR) is applied to the rateable value. This is set by the government and may be subject to a phasing allowance to reduce the impact of valuation changes or to different rates for large and small businesses and empty properties. VAT at 10% can be charged on rental payments but it is usually recoverable by most tenants (tax advice should be sought).
Disposal of a LeaseSub-letting is usually possible under the terms of the lease, subject to landlord’s approval but at no more than half of the property. Assignment rights are not normally barred in the lease but will also be subject to consent, which should not be unreasonably withheld. Early termination is only by break clause, to be negotiated at outset of lease by mutual consent upon negotiation. At lease end, the tenant is responsible for re-instating the premises to the same condition as at the start of the lease, subject to normal wear and tear. All tenant improvements must be approved by the landlord subject to the alteration covenant in the lease and the fact that approval should not be unreasonably withheld.