MILAN: Sales of luxury goods are expected to post a double-digit percentage increase worldwide this year, as the sector continues to show resilience despite difficult global economic conditions.

Altagamma, the trade body, and Bain & Co, the consultancy, reported sales of personal high-end brands rose by 13% in 2010 to €173bn, and forecast figures would climb by 10% in 2011 to €191bn.

Each of the main categories assessed – ready-to-wear goods for men and women, watches, leather goods, shoes, jewellery, watches, perfumes and cosmetics – saw sales rise in the last 12 months, trends set to be repeated this year.

More specifically, Japan, long one of the industry's most important outlets, finally saw an end to the pattern of falling annual returns recorded since 2007, but was essentially flat in 2010.

The country is expected to generate growth of around 2% in 2011, taking the market to a value of some €18.5bn overall.

Asia Pacific as a whole witnessed a 28% uplift in 2010, a total pegged to come in at 25% in 2011. China, now delivering 20% of luxury consumption, is heading the charge, up 35% in 2010 and due to witness similar trends in 2011, reaching €13bn.

European sales also "rebounded last year" with growth of 10%, and are in line for a 7% expansion in 2011, as the region sees its collective demand for premium products reach €69bn overall.

The Americas enjoyed a 16% sales increase in 2010, a pace of acceleration set to halve this year, but still ensuring this geography reaches a value of €56bn for luxury manufacturers.

However, the US is unlikely to lose its position as the world's most valuable market in the short term, having generated €48bn in revenues over the course of 2010 as a whole.

Retail channels recorded a 25% sales lift globally in 2010, outpacing the 10% uptick recorded by the wholesale category. These two segments are due to see totals leap by 14% and 9% in turn during 2011.

Elsewhere, online returns expanded by 25% in 2010, hitting €4.5bn, and should come in at €5.6bn by the close of 2011. "Social media are becoming even more core in brands' digital strategy, positively impacting the online channel," the study added.

Looking further ahead, Altagamma and Bain & Co predicted that industry revenues would expand in the 6% to 7% range going forward, taking the sector to a value of around €230bn by 2014.

Data sourced from Altagamma; additional content by Warc staff