Gauging luxury demand now more art than science

September 14, 2016

Watch-maker Richemont said first-half operating profit will be down 45 percent, with sales poor in all regions. Bag-maker Hermes is to scrap sales targets. With global GDP still to grow by 2.4 percent this year, brands can't just blame weak economies.

Consumer boycotts won’t decide Sino-Japan fight

September 19, 2012

Protesters have called for shoppers to stop buying Japanese goods. But past attempts to snub French wine or Danish goods suggest this rarely works. And if Chinese workers attack Japanese factories, they would share much of the pain. Economic war looks reassuringly hard to wage.

GDP doesn’t answer big question: what’s next?

October 29, 2009

The numbers, while symbolically important, do little to indicate what happens after this predictable, initial bounce. The U.S. consumer is still reeling. Too much debt coupled with a still weak jobs market make it difficult to say where the money is going to come from to fuel a consumer-led recovery.

No wind in these sales

October 14, 2009

Families have levels of debt that remain stubbornly high and are still close to twice the peak of the 1980s boom. Yet consumers have returned to saving just 3 percent of disposable income. At such a snail's pace it will take roughly 9 years to bring household debt down to a more reasonable level of around 100 percent of disposable income.

China’s “biggests” come early, late or not at all

February 7, 2014

Recent superlatives include top red wine consumer, car purchaser and oil importer. Being the biggest brings China investment, but can also be a sign of inequality and inefficiency. Meanwhile, some coveted firsts still look a long way off.

A long winter for consumer spending

October 1, 2009

So far we have seen little evidence that American consumers can stand on their own two feet. A constant drip feed of government programs has made their underlying strength hard to judge