People, this is seriously good news! While the fact that people were shopping at the 99-Cent Store did little to kick the recession to the sidelines, economists have been saying right along that what was needed was a return of consumer confidence and for consumption to begin in earnest. While we're holding our collective breathes for jobs to be created so we can actually start spending again, relief came from an unsuspected corner: The rich, it seems, have grown bored with their wardrobes. Being seen twice in the same dress was just so 2009!
The study by Bain & Co. has forecast that sales of designer clothes, leather goods, watches, jewelry and other indulgences would surge 10 percent in 2010, recovering from a sit-on-your-Dolce-&-Gabbana-wallet 8 percent decline in 2009. The study was commissioned by Italy's Fondazione Altagamma association of high-end producers.
Sales in the U.S. market grew up 12 percent. Asia saw a 22 percent growth in high-end spending and European shoppers spent 6 percent more. Leather goods, which held steady despite the 2009 dramatic decline, is predicted to grow by 16 percent in 2010.
Of course the holiday season will be the litmus test. And even Bain is hedging its bets a bit, saying growth could range from 9 percent to about 11 percent, depending on shopper turnout.
The real story though may be coming from Asia, where the Chinese are powering luxury sales to the point where they grew a whopping 30 percent. Chinese tourists have begun traveling the world and spending as they go.
Some other encouraging factoids: larger brands are faring better than smaller ones -- perhaps because they had the resources to weather the recession. And menswear is growing faster than womenswear -- for which there is simply no explanation known to (wo)mankind.