Indonesia retail sales seen growing up to 20 pct in 2011-paper

JAKARTA, March 24 Thu Mar 24, 2011 1:02am EDT

JAKARTA, March 24 (Reuters) - Indonesia's retail sales are expected to rise up to 20 percent to 120 trillion rupiah ($13.8 billion) in 2011 due to the growing number of retail outlets and strong domestic demand in Southeast Asia's biggest economy, a newspaper reported on Thursday.

The number of retail outlets is estimated to rise over 20 percent to 16,000 units this year, newspaper Investor Daily quoted Benjamin Mailool, the chairman of Indonesia's retail merchants association, as saying.

"Sales will be up between 15-20 percent because of three factors: the increasing number of outlets, economic growth and the changing lifestyle," Mailool said.

Investors have taken note, with a battle between supermarket operators to tap an emerging middle class expected to trigger more acquisitions in Indonesia and Southeast Asia.

Indonesia's Matahari scrapped a plan to sell its hypermarket business in January but says it is keen to expand aggressively and dislodge Carrefour as the country's number one superstore operator.

Retail expansion comes as the government expects GDP growth this year to reach 6.4 percent. ($1 = 8,721.5 Rupiah) (Reporting by Telly Nathalia; Editing by Neil Chatterjee)