High-end retail: There’s luxury and then there’s luxury…

From a recent RetailWire panel discussion…the issue is whether high-end retail has returned to pre-recession levels. The examples cited include sales at the very high end of the consumer spectrum. My comment focuses on the “critical mass” of luxury retail that may not be at these lofty levels:

Somebody who can afford a private 747 jet is probably not too troubled by the cost of filling up the tank. And a wealthy consumer who spends $1.5m on a mastiff is probably not going out of his way to buy dog food at Costco. The ultra-high end consumer described in the article has been returning to pre-2008 spending levels for about a year. The bigger question is how the luxury retailers catering to this customer — and the much bigger tier of “merely wealthy” — is faring right now. All the evidence is that luxury and near-luxury retailers, from Tiffany to Neiman Marcus, are thriving.

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