Wall Street Gyrations Jolt Luxury Retail

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LOS ANGELES, Aug. 13 (UPI) — Wild swings in the stock market have luxury retailers worried a slowing economy may buckle leaving those who cater to wealthy U.S. shoppers high and dry.

“We were all pumped, and now it’s like, boom. Another hit,” said Pol Atteu, who runs a women’s boutique in Beverly Hills, Calif., The Los Angeles Times reported Saturday.

Similarly, Jodie Robinson, owner of Ann Michelle, a two-outlet boutique with stores in Beverly Hill and Agoura Hills, Calif., said, “We were having a really good month and then it just fell off last week. People are not in a good mood to shop. It’s depressing and uncertain.”

At her high-end stores, “any time the market fluctuates like this, my business is impacted immediately,” she said.

At Eddia Beverly Hills, a luxury clothing store, where men’s suits start at $2,500, sales associate Steve Palabod said, “We were doing very well, but this month in particular it’s taken a dive.”

Since mid-July, stock shares have dropped 24.4 percent at Saks and 17.6 percent at Tiffany & Co., sharper drops than the retail sector on the Standard & Poor’s 500 index, which has seen an average drop of 11.2 percent in the same period.

Retail researchers at MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse said luxury sales excluding jewelry rose 11.6 percent in July.

The sector sometimes appears isolated from the general economy, but luxury shopping is a major portion of consumer spending.

Consumer spending is said to make up 70 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product. Within that group, 20 percent of the wealthiest shoppers account for 40 percent of the dollars spent, the Times said.

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