Retailers, consumers and prices
From our apparel correspondent Nivedita Bhattacharjee:
Financo’s president Bill Susman identified an unlikely rival that could hamper retail sales all over the world in the coming months – the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
As if jittery financial markets, oil spills and debt crises are not enough, retailers will soon have to fight the World Cup to entice customers, many of whom will be esconced in front of their TV sets as the most popular soccer tournament kicks off later this month.
“Retailing for July and part of August will be globally messed up – it’s called the World Cup,” said Susman, president and chief operating officer of the investment banking boutique, during an interview at the Reuters Global Luxury Summit.
“People are going to watch TV and it will change patterns. And I think for Europe particularly, people, if they are feeling a little poorer, may stay home and watch soccer (rather) than shop,” said Susman.
Check out the cautious notes being sounded in the global luxury market.
Industry executives voiced concerns about everything from unemployment to Europe’s brewing economic crisis, but are nonetheless banking on growth from China and a recovering U.S. market.
Leading officials speaking at the Reuters Global Luxury Summit said the debt crisis in Europe is threatening to halt luxury’s rebound, but demand for fine merchandise was picking up in the United States while China’s shoppers were venturing frequently into Tokyo for top brands.
Bashful New York bargain hunters may finally be able to guard their modesty at one of the city’s biggest annual retail events, as luxury chain Barney’s is considering adding dressing rooms at its mobbed New York warehouse sale.
While well-educated and well-heeled professionals don’t think twice about unleashing their animal instincts to grab the best designer merchandise at 75 percent off, many are reticent about stripping down in public to make sure they have the right size before ringing up a final sale.
From our apparel reporter Nivedita Bhattacharjee:
Luxury brands in the United States might still have a lot to learn from the entrenched design houses in Europe, but their commitment to pleasing the customer serves them well as the market returns from recession.
Milton Pedraza, Chief Executive of the Luxury Institute, told us during the Reuters Global Luxury Summit today that the commitment to customer service could even become a real point of differentiation for American brands.
“The American brands and even the Burberrys of the world tend to be better at customer-centricity, at service, and could make that a competitive advantage, because the Europeans are not as service-oriented, more product-oriented,” he said.
“The Europeans are not as service-oriented, (they are) more product-oriented, and they will even tell you that.”
If one is looking for an explanation behind the attitudes, Pedraza invoked a time well before Hermes opened its doors in 1837.
“A French executive told me that the word ‘service’ … is equated with servility and (goes) back to the French revolution and is why the French don’t like to serve anybody.”
Check out what executives at luxury retailers around the world are saying about consumer demand.
Early feedback from the Reuters Global Luxury Summit, which gathered top executives from Asia, Europe and the United States, sounds positive. Some executives even predicted that the sector will rebound this year after suffering during the weak economy.