Luxury brands benefit from US shoppers

Wednesday, 10 February 2010
The gloom and doom of retail sales and the ailing high street street of late doesn't seem to apply to luxury brands, as least not in the US. The Financial Times have reported wealthy American shoppers seem to be defying economic uncertainty to renew their spending on luxury goods such as jewellery, fashion and cosmetics.

Tracey Travis, chief financial officer of Polo Ralph Lauren, said last week that the fashion brand and retail company had “slowly begun to see the gradual return of our core luxury customer”, including buyers of couture dresses that sell for more than $4,000.

Last week’s January sales figures from leading US chain stores reinforced the picture of growing readiness to spend, with Neiman Marcus, Saks, Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s – the top upmarket US department stores – reporting strong sales growth, albeit from the depressed levels of a year ago.

Neiman Marcus, which operates about 43 luxury fashion stores serving the most affluent US consumers, said that its strongest categories included women’s couture clothing and precious jewellery. Abercrombie & Fitch, the youth retailer known for its $60 polo shirts, reported that comparable sales had risen 8 per cent, its first monthly increase for 20 months, in spite of teenage unemployment running at about 26 per cent.

The strength in the January sales numbers “suggests that sufficient spending is coming from the least affected parts of the consumer universe”, he said.

Source: Financial Times

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