Survey: Luxury Consumption Will Grow This Year

For
the first time since 2007, affluent consumers plan to increase their purchases
this year, according to the 2011 Survey
of Affluence and Wealth in America
, released by American Express Publishing
and Harrison Group.

The
survey found that 45 percent of America’s wealthiest families (defined as over
$500,000 minimum discretionary income) intend to increase their luxury consumption
in 2011. Spending on luxury categories—which includes jewelry, as well as
clothing, accessories, and home décor—will increase 8 percent, the survey
found.

In
other good news, the percentage of affluent consumers who expect to reduce
their luxury consumption in 2011 dropped by nearly half—from 16 percent to 9
percent. 

“It
is a relief to finally be able to see a significant return of affluent
consumers to the luxury marketplace,” said Dr. Jim Taylor, vice chairman of
Harrison Group, in a statement. “They remain skittish; 70 percent believe the recession
is still on, but their anxiety is significantly reduced.”

But
he cautioned that the market should not expect “a return to 2005.”

“Luxury consumers will seek out extraordinary
quality, service and craftsmanship,” he said. “They will do so with an
expectation of securing price advantages in their negotiations with merchants. The
affluent consumer remains needs-based, resourceful, and research-oriented.  They will exercise discretion.  They will pursue authenticity and
extraordinary quality. They will engage in the art of the deal and the discount
with relish.  And, they will operate as
families in need, not want.”

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