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Cecile Corral

Rich niche bewitched?

January 25, 2008

 

It seems the high-end consumer, the non-working lady of the house with a wallet bedecked in credit cards and a back account replete with accessible cash, is doing what was once unthinkable — thinking twice before she makes expensive, unnecessary purchases.

 

Unity Marketing’s Luxury Consumption Index this week reported that luxury consumer confidence at the onset of this New Year dropped to a record low – to 63.3 points in the fourth quarter from 23.8 points in the third quarter.

 

The Index also reported that with their confidence down, the rich halted their spending on luxury goods and services by more than 20% from the first half of 2007 to the second half.

 

And that was the way they were behaving before this week’s oscillating stock market activity, which is causing concern for Americans at all income levels.

 

And yet, that up-market consumer glimmers like a beacon of hope for many suppliers.

 

During last week’s Atlanta International Area Rug Market, many area rug companies dedicated a considerable portion of their new offerings to upscale products. Capel enhanced its one-of-a-kind hand-knotted assortment to 300 pieces from just 25 in previous markets. Nourison added lavish looks to its line to beg better price points. Even United Weavers, which typically services mass merchants, found a route to a higher price point – from $199 to $229 – via its partnership with wildlife artist license The Hautman Brothers.

 

All three, as well as some of their competitors on the same track, told us the few retailers who attended the market received these higher-end goods openly.

 

The question is that now that the orders are freshly inked, will the goods finally make it to the stores, and if so, will the shoppers take them to the register?

 

Unity Marketing offers for a free downloadable white paper about its Luxury

Consumption Index’s predictions for the luxury market this year.

 

In the meantime, rub your rabbit’s foot.