Study: Global luxury goods sales to slide up to 35%

Friday, May 1, 2020, Vol. 44, No. 18

SOAVE, Italy (AP) — The global luxury goods sector is heading for a stunning collapse of up to 35% this year due to coronavirus lockdowns, according to a new study by the Bain consultancy published Thursday.

Bain Partner Claudia D' Arpizio said it would take two to three years to return to 2019 global sales of around 281 billion euros ($303 billion) -- with the forecast decline much steeper than the single-digit drop recorded after the 2008-9 crisis.

The coronavirus crisis is expected to lead to a spate of mergers and acquisitions of weakened brands, the closure of single-brand stores and reshaping of already suffering U.S. department stores, D'Arpizio said. Customers are also likely to emerge from global lockdowns with a new set of priorities.

"The psychological aspects will probably reshape these markets for good. There was already a trend toward frugality, more cautious spending and looking for deeper meaning,'' D'Arpizio said. "This does not mean people won't spend money. They will spend money on brands that stand for something, that really engage them. ''

The semi-annual study for the Italian luxury goods producers' group Altagamma foresees the most dramatic drop in sales during the second quarter, when they are forecast to slide up to 50%, followed by a milder contraction in the second half. The study does not forecast the impact of another round of lockdowns, should the virus peak again.

For the full-year, Bain is forecasting luxury sales of apparel, handbags, footwear, watches and beauty products of 189 billion euros to 220 billion euros. The degree of the year-end hit will depend on whether there are rebounds in the local markets -- something already being seen in China and Asia -- and to what extent domestic and regional tourism are able to resume.