High-End Retail Outscoring the Rest

July’s retail
reports demonstrated that sales at high-end retailers are faring better than
sales in the low and middle end, analysts said.

For example,
the SpendingPulse Luxury Index, which does not include jewelry sales, jumped
11.6 percent year on year in July, which was its largest increase since April
2010.

In addition, high-end department stores like Neiman’s,
Nordstrom’s, and Saks, all
did well in July,
with Saks’ sales rising an incredible 15 percent. Neiman’s sales rose 7.7 percent, and Nordstorm’s rose 6.6 percent.

But sales at mass-market chain stores disappointed, with Kohl’s same sales falling 4.6 percent. Sales were better at Target and J.C. Penney, where sales rose 4.1
percent and 3.3 percent, respectively.

“High end and
online are the two best parts of retail,” New York City based retail analyst
Howard Davidowitz tells JCK. “The
wealthy have gotten tremendously richer over the last two years. In the Trump
Tower, they are buying $10 million apartments like it’s nothing.”

But he sees continued weakness in the rest of the market.

“At the low
end, things have been terrible,” he says. “Food stamps are soaring. Wal-Mart has been down
for eight straight quarters.” 

However, he
sees high-end sales starting to falter if the capital markets continue to fall, as that has fueled most of the recovery in the high-end.

Michael
McNamara, vice president at MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse, said in a
statement that many non-luxury consumers are being scared away by higher gas
prices.

“Consumers were
paying about $1 more per gallon of gasoline this month than they were in
July 2010,” he noted.