In Telsey Advisory Group’s latest analysis of the worldwide luxury market, researchers at the firm said “it would appear that trends have bottomed in the global luxury space.”
The report, written by chief executive and research officer Dana Telsey, noted that while “visibility remains difficult and growth remains subdued, we see better potential for low-single-digit growth in the year ahead.” The TAG analysts also said the Chinese consumer remains the “engine of growth” for the luxury segment as these shoppers comprise 31 percent of total sales. Americans are next with 24 percent, and Europeans at 18 percent. “Chinese shoppers continue to spend far more abroad than in mainland China, which accounts for only 20 percent of their global purchases,” Telsey said.
Meanwhile, in a separate report on China’s economy from IHS Global Insight chief economist Brian Jackson, the country’s economy has firmed up thanks to a jump in industrial production. But as the TAG report stated, the Chinese luxury shopper has pulled back over the past few years.
“The headwinds to the [luxury] space remain well-known,” Telsey said. “Outbound Chinese shopping, the engine of growth in the luxury category over the past several years, remains constrained. Political concerns over indulgent personal spending among political elite have been in play for several years.”
But the TAG report also observed that a strong dollar and “cultural concerns have constrained Chinese outbound spending in Hong Kong over the past several years. The upcoming election in Hong Kong remains a potential difficulty that could extend the structural issues in the market.”
Other headwinds for the luxury market include “safety concerns” in Europe, which has softened tourism spending, Telsey said. “‘Experiential’ luxury spending, including travel and dining, has also taken share of wallet from the hard goods luxury space, in our view.”
Still, Telsey said international luxury shoppers “are smarter than ever” and changes in currency have shifted “spending patterns immediately, as evidenced by the improvement in spending patterns in the U.K. following the Brexit vote.” Also the stronger Japanese yen has “cooled” the market there, which followed more robust luxury spending last year.
In the U.S., the market is also impacted by currency issues. “While domestic U.S. players have been awaiting the anniversary of a stronger dollar and its impact to tourist spending over the past year, the recent strength of the dollar reduces visibility to that benefit,” Telsey said, adding that domestic luxury spending in the U.S. “has been uneven, but record stock market levels cannot hurt.”
Regarding the IHS Global Insight report on China, Jackson said “Chinese growth was better than expected in November, mostly due to stronger industrial output from utilities and retail sales from automobiles.”
The economist noted that the housing sector continued to “decelerate gradually, in line with expectations.” But industrial production ticked up at a faster pace, gaining 6.2 percent in November, which compares to a growth rate of 6.1 percent in both September and October. He also noted that retail sales showed a 10.8 percent growth rate in November — an 11th-month high.