The Christmas Divide: Luxury Soars While Mass Still Struggles

This Christmas, luxury retailers are generating gains twice as high as mainstream retailers.

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Currently, more than half of what’s on the selling floors of luxury stores is holiday merchandise. Spring goods represent 15 to 20 percent of the merchandise, and fall goods another 15 to 20 percent, Weinswig estimated.

At Rizik’s in downtown Washington, furs, including sheared mink coats — like a three-quarter-length Michael Kors design for $3,000 or a private label reversible quilted barn jacket for $4,000 — are stoking holiday business, said president Maxine Rizik. She said sales began slowly after Thanksgiving, “but it’s picking up more as the season progresses.”

Peter Marx, president of Saks Jandel in Chevy Chase, Md., said eveningwear sales have been “very strong” and the focus of trunk shows and personal appearances. Marx said since spring there have been double-digit sales increases month-to-month and year-over-year.

The Neiman Marcus flagship in Dallas had its best results ever Friday due to its annual party for members of InCircle, its frequent buyer club. Buying was so frenzied that staffers had to hold selections from customers and wait until the next morning to ring them up for later delivery. “They were buying everything,” said Shelle Bagot, vice president and general manager of the store. “It was the luxury part of Christmas — furs and precious jewelry. Apparel, which is usually not strong this quarter, was very strong, plus all accessories and men’s business across the board. Luxury is here and people are buying.” About 1,000 people came to the party, where club members received double points for their purchases.

At Jeffrey, a designer store in Atlanta and New York, sales were up 20 percent this past weekend and are seen maintaining that pace for the duration of the season, said Jeffrey Kalinsky, owner. He said early spring and resort groups have performed well, driven by color, prints and items. A bright yellow heavy cotton jacket by Marni, at about $765, sold five out of six units in the past week.

At Giuseppe Zanotti, a designer shoe and handbag boutique in Bal Harbour Shoppes in Miami, traffic and sales for the past two weekends set records for the eight-year-old store, said Philippe Goureau, owner. Shoes priced from $400 to $700, with novelty and uniqueness, are selling best. A sandal with a crystal scorpion ornament, priced at $675, sold more than 10 pairs this weekend. “Usually, Thanksgiving weekend is strong, then things slow down until Dec. 22 or so. But not this year,” said Goureau. “We are now selling as much as we do during the height of the season.”
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