Luxury sales to rise in Europe

04 February 2011

LONDON: Luxury retail sales will rise substantially in Europe during the next five years, helping the region retain its position as the "most lucrative in the world".

According to figures from intelligence provider Verdict Research, premium retail revenues should climb by $60bn (€43.5bn; £37bn) over the period to 2015, hitting $175bn.

This constitutes a significant improvement in the trading climate after the $17.7bn drop recorded in 2009, when the recession precipitated extremely frugal behaviour among many consumers.

"Although the market for luxury retail is mature in Europe, there are a great number of opportunities for growth," said Ruta Perveneckaite, a retail analyst at Verdict.

One contributor to this trend will be the increasing amount of affluent individuals, as this demographic expands by 10% in the UK, and 7% in France, Italy and Germany in the next four years.

Rising tourism levels, especially from emerging nations like India and China, and the decline of the Euro's exchange rate against many currencies might also play their part.

Demand could be further stimulated by international events including the 2012 Olympics in London, the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, and the 2015 Expo in Milan, Verdict added.

Ecommerce is similarly expected to enjoy a more important role in the future, with Gucci having launched an online store covering several Western European countries, and Ralph Lauren following the same strategy in the UK.

Alongside offering greater accessibility to buyers living outside major cities, such an approach promises a variety of other benefits.

"Selling online also allows luxury retailers to reach the mass market," said Perveneckaite.

"These consumers, who may feel intimidated by prestige stores or may struggle to get to these stores, can easily view products and this may encourage them to save up."

Flagship branches will continue to fulfil a key function, however, with Chanel and Louis Vuitton demonstrating this through opening new sites in high-profile London locations.

Data sourced from Verdict Research; additional content by Warc staff