London - What crisis? The demand for luxury goods around the world is as booming as it ever was, as wealthy Chinese consumers continue to cement their status as top spenders, according to a new study by Bain consultancy.
The study, released Thursday by Italian luxury producers Altagamma, forecasts that global sales of personal luxury goods will jump 13 percent to 253 billion euro this year. That's an impressive gain considering there were just 3 percent gains over the last two years, it noted.
Nearly one third of spending on high-end apparel, jewellery, handbags and shoes is by the Chinese. Their spending is growing strongly, while high-end shopping from other nationalities is growing only modestly.
Only 20 percent of Chinese shop at home
Meanwhile, just 20 percent of Chinese spending is done at home, with many going on shopping expeditions in foreign countries, where prices are often lower.
“While Paris, London and New York have been popular destinations, it is hard to predict where Chinese shoppers might flock to next, says Claudia D'Arpizio, a senior partner at Bain & Company who conducted the study.
Unlike European and US shoppers, who tend to have favourite destinations they return to, the Chinese "have zero country loyalty," D'Arpizio also told The Associated Press.
“They monitor the internet for the best prices "and they change their travel plans to get to the best shopping destinations," she said.
That has become particularly true since China let its currency devalue this summer, making it somewhat more expensive for the Chinese to spend abroad.
Nearby Tokyo has become their primary destination, while Moscow, whose currency shed 23 percent of its value against the euro this year, is another key destination. They have also put Australia on the global luxury shopping map.
One consequence of this trend is that luxury goods stores are increasing their prices to squeeze profits out of the traveling Chinese shoppers, D'Arpizio said.
Luxury brands have increased prices 5 percent each season
In Europe, that has translated into price increases of 5-7 percent a season as brands seek to reduce the price differential between China and Europe caused by currency swings.
Americans, the second largest class of global shoppers, are returning to Europe, fortified by a strong dollar. They are forecast to increase tax-free purchases in 2015 by 67 percent. Stung by a weaker ruble, Russian tax-free shopping is slumping 37 percent,
The US, with its strong domestic market, remains the largest single personal luxury goods market with 78.6 billion euros in projected sales this year. Japan is set to capture 20 billion euros in sales, followed by 18 billion euros in China and about 17 billion euros in both Italy and France.