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US luxury spend dips

Luxury goods retailers in the US are facing the prospect of an horrific Christmas after a sharp downturn in domestic consumer confidence.
Spend on luxury goods in the third quarter fell by 21% to its lowest level since 2004, according to a survey by research firm Unity Marketing. The spend in monetary value per consumer fell from US$15,283 (£7,324) in the second quarter to US$12,142 (£5,820) in the third quarter.
Falling consumer confidence, especially among less affluent luxury consumers, was blamed for the dip.

Unity Marketing said its survey, which questioned more than 1,000 luxury goods consumers with an average income of US$150,200 (£72,000), showed spending was particularly weak on fashion accessories, jewellery and watches.

But it was those in the lower-bracket of incomes covered by the survey, who earn between US$75,000 and $149,999 (£35,950 and £71,900), that had cut their spending the most. Those earning US$150,000 (£71,900) or above spent the same on luxury goods in the third quarter as they did in the second.

Unity Marketing economic forecaster Thomas Bodenberg said: “There are myriad reasons for the drop in luxury consumer confidence: the increase in foreclosures due to the correction in the mortgage markets, the dip in value of funds financed by mortgage-based securities, job losses in financial industries, the lag in luxury home building, oil approaching US$100 (£48) per barrel, and lack of confidence in the political process in both major parties and the executive and legislative branches of government.

“The result is an ennui that hampers the purchase of luxury goods and services – the outlook for the Christmas trading season is clouded at best.”

Unity Marketing president Pam Danziger said: “Most luxury brands will discover just how dependent they have become upon consumers’ penchant to trade up to more luxurious offerings than they could otherwise afford.

“On the other hand, luxury brands that have built their business on the super-affluent market will likely be immune to this trend.”

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