Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Affluent Chinese help Tiffany make up for stingy US shoppers

November 25, 2009

tif1Normally double-digit sales declines don’t cheer investors.

But shares of jewelry chain Tiffany & Co rose 4 percent on Wednesday even though it reported that sales at its U.S. stores open for at least a year (“same-store-sales” in industry parlance) fell 10 percent in the third quarter. 

True, much of the hemorrhaging seems to have subsided since last year’s gruesome holiday fourth quarter when U.S. same-store sales fell 33 percent, and November is off to a promising start.

Seems that wealthy Asians and Europeans — in Asia outside Japan, overall sales rose 18 percent while European sales were up 10.5 percent in the quarter — are picking up the slack from rich Americans who seem to be curbing their shopping until the Dow Jones Index is more to their liking… like say 14,000. And analysts were encouraged that the jeweler is aggressively expanding overseas.

Tiffany is so bullish on China in particular that it is planning to triple the number of its stores on the mainland within 5 years. Outside China, the chain is also expanding. It is opening a second store at London’s Heathrow Airport next month and has opened new stores in Amsterdam, a Melbourne suburb, Toronto and Hong Kong this year.

While the affluent U.S. baubles buyer will eventually return, Tiffany is playing it smart by leveraging its strong brand and international footprint to get through the storm, analysts told Reuters.

(PHOTO: Reuters)


If I tell you majority Chinese population hasn’t seen any “real” diamonds until recent years, you would be able to appreciate how enormous this market is.

Posted by Jamey | Report as abusive

China is slowly moving from factory to the world to consumer to the world and foreign companies are coming into China at what feels like a record pace to take advantage of this. But, they should not be fooled, as it will be very slow going for most of them, but there definitely does seem to be a first mover advantage.


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