Luxury Shoppers are Back


$2 million cognac. Source: Most-expensive.net.

While some people scramble for free khakis, others are indulging in high-end indulgences like designer perfumes and $5,000 coats. The Financial Times has more:

More prosperous American shoppers seem to be defying continuing high unemployment levels and economic uncertainty to renew their spending on luxuries such as jewellery, fashion and cosmetics. That is the picture emerging from the current round of US earnings and sales reports.

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.

Fabrizio Freda, chief executive of Estée Lauder, has said that sales of its beauty products at “prestige” stores – such as traditional department stores – had grown faster than at “mass” drugstores and discounters during November and December, reversing the trend seen earlier in the year.

“We view this as a return of the aspirational consumer,” he said.

The evidence of greater readiness to spend comes in spite of continuing high unemployment, with about 20 per cent of the US population unemployed or working casually or part time. Richard Hastings, retail strategist at Global Hunter Securities, said that roughly half of the 80 per cent of Americans fully employed were not affected by the depressed housing market and were now more ready to spend as they had become less concerned about their own jobs.

I’d like to know what industries and businesses those 40% of Americans work in.