RAPAPORT… Global luxury sales could return to pre-pandemic levels this year, boosted by a strong recovery in China and an unexpected early rebound in the US, according to Bain & Company.
In the first quarter of 2021, revenue from luxury products grew up to 1% compared to the same period in 2019, the US management consultancy group said in its Luxury Study 2021 Spring Update. The increase came as China continued to see an acceleration in domestic spending on luxury items, with restrictions on travel to Hong Kong still in place, according to the report, which Bain released in partnership with Altagamma, an Italian industry group for luxury-goods manufacturers.
Meanwhile, renewed consumer confidence in the US, driven by the government stimulus and a rapid vaccine rollout, reinvigorated luxury consumption faster than expected, Bain explained. The swift recovery in these two key markets has outweighed a lag in Europe, which is hampered by a slower vaccination campaign and the lack of international tourism.
“It’s clear that consumers still want to buy luxury goods, and this, along with the brands’ ability to adapt and innovate, is driving a return to growth in the market,” said Claudia D’Arpizio, a partner at Bain.
However, the outlook for 2021 is still uncertain, noted Bain. It expects overall luxury sales of between EUR 250 billion ($304.49 billion) and EUR 295 billion ($359.3 billion) for the year. Exactly where the total will fall is dependent on which of two possible scenarios occurs.
In the first, which Bain rated as 30% probable, the recovery will continue through the end of the year, returning to 2019 levels by December 31. If so, total luxury sales could reach EUR 280 billion ($341.03 billion) to EUR 295 billion this year. The second scenario, which has a 70% probability, according to Bain, will see growth peaking in the first quarter, than slowing due to a lull in domestic luxury purchasing and limited tourism. That eventuality would see total luxury sales of EUR 250 billion to EUR 265 billion ($322.76 billion) in 2021, with the full recovery to pre-pandemic levels not occurring until 2022, Bain added.
Image: A woman wearing luxury emerald jewelry. (Shutterstock)