By the Numbers: Jewelry’s Eastern Promise

Shoppers in emerging markets such as the Middle East and China are increasingly gobbling up European fashion and luxury goods.

Shoppers in emerging markets such as the Middle East and China are increasingly gobbling up European fashion and luxury goods in their home markets — and from a young age.

This story first appeared in the July 29, 2013 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

In the United Arab Emirates, teenagers spend $100 a month on clothing and accessories, more than six times the global average for their peer group, according to a recent report by Chalhoub Group for Walpole, which represents Britain’s high-end industries.

According to Chalhoub’s study “Luxury in the Middle East: An Easy Sell?” local shoppers from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman spend an average of $1,300 monthly on clothing and accessories, of which $700 goes to apparel and $300 to shoes. That compares with $120 and $15, respectively, in the U.K.

A separate study by KPMG, “Global Reach of China Luxury,” said the Chinese shopper has very firm ideas about provenance and the power of European heritage brands when it comes to luxury goods. Switzerland is tops for luxury watches, while France is number one for cosmetics, perfumes, clothes and bags.

RELATED CONTENT: Innovative Eyewear Draws Attention in Berlin >>

Also according to the study, Europe and Asia have seen a major increase in the number of Chinese tourists buying watches. “In 10 years, the watch category has grown significantly because of the strength of the market and people wanting to sell here. We see a trophy market being formed and a shift in terms of tastes,” said a spokesman for the auction house Christie’s Asia.

The KPMG study also showed that of the Chinese consumers who bought watches overseas in 2012, 43 percent used multibrand shops; 39 percent went to nonairport duty-free stores; 33 percent relied on stand-alone shops; 14 percent bought at airports, and another 14 percent turned to department stores.  Geographically speaking, the highest percentage of watch purchases was made in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macao.

A spokesman for the Oriental Watch Co., which has a flagship in central Hong Kong, said he expects Mainland China’s growing middle class to drive watch sales in Hong Kong in the long term. “Particularly because of the VAT price differentials, which still make it an attractive shopping destination.”