US luxury retail [pdf] spending increased in the apparel/accessories, jewelry, and department store verticals during Q1 2011 compared to Q1 2010, according to a July 2011 report from American Express Business Insights. However, data from “Q1 2011 Spend Sights Report: Luxury Retail” indicates spending dropped year-over-year in the luxury furniture/home furnishings vertical.
Avg. Consumers Outspend Wealthier Peers in Apparel/Accessories
Consumers posted healthy apparel/accessories spend growth in Q1 2011, with overall consumer spend increasing by 3.3%. Average consumers splurged more than their ultra-affluent (highest-spending consumers) counterparts, increasing spend by 3.3% while the ultra-affluent remained slightly more cautious, increasing spend by just 2%.
Ultra-affluent and average consumers increased transaction size by 8.9% and 8.4%, respectively, which American Express says indicates a trend of large, infrequent purchases. Males were responsible for 44.6% of total apparel and accessories spend, while women accounted for 55.4%.
February proved to be the most popular month to shop for a new wardrobe as overall spending increased by 10.3% during this month. Spending decreased in January and March by 1.4% and 0.6%, respectively.
Jewelry Spending Rises on Falling Volume
Jewelry appeared to thrive during post-holiday sales, with overall spend increasing by 5.3% and average transaction size increasing by 14.6% during Q1 2011 compared to a year earlier. However, transaction volume decreased by 8.1% when compared to the same time last year.
Males were responsible for 73.2% of jewelry spend while women accounted for 26.8%. While January posted a 3% decrease in category spend, spending increased by 9.7% in February and 8.4% in March.
Dept. Stores Thrive After Holidays
Consumers and businesses alike took advantage of post-holiday sales in the new year and continued spending in department stores in Q1 2011. While overall consumer spending in this category increased by 4.4%, corporate spending led with a 6% overall increase. Small businesses trailed with a modest 2.8% increase in luxury spend in department stores.
Women accounted for 65.6% of total spend in department stores, on par with last year’s male/female spend ratio for this category. February was the strongest month of department store spending with overall spend increasing by 7.4% during this month. January and March followed with spend increases of 4.4% and 1.4%, respectively.
Furniture/Home Furnishings Gets Post-Holiday Blues
Furniture and home furnishings saw a large decrease in spend following the holiday, with consumers decreasing total spend in this category by 14.4%. Corporate spending decreased by 15.9% and small businesses followed suit with a 5.5% decrease in overall spending on furniture and home furnishings.
The only signs of growth in the furniture/home furnishings segment were a 2.3% increase in average transaction size for small businesses and 3.5% growth in corporate transaction volume. Overall spend decreased by 12.5%, thanks to a 5.3% decrease in transaction size and a 7.7% decrease in transaction volume. Spending in the category has shown a year-over-year decrease in 11 of the last 12 months, with March 2011 marking the largest decrease of 14.7%.
Airline Travel Takes Off
In another sign discretionary spending is generally doing well, overall airline spending increased the most of any travel category tracked by American Express Business Insights (8.4%) in Q1 2011 compared to Q1 2010, fueled by a 14% surge in corporate airline spending. Average consumers followed with a 4% increase, slightly beating out the highest-spending ultra-affluent consumers, who increased their airline spending 3.3% compared to a year earlier.
While total airline spending for all groups increased 8.4%, transaction volume decreased 1.8% during Q1 2011.
About the Data: American Express Business Insights leverages proprietary data from 90 million global American Express cardholders.