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Friday, July 8, 2011

Survey: Luxury Up 8% in June, Jewelry Showed Strength and Weakness

The De Beers Jewelry Store on Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles.

In its ninth consecutive month of year-over-year gains, the SpendingPulse Luxury Index (excluding Jewelry) for June was up 8.2 percent, more in line with first quarter of the year and better than the 4.7 percent gains seen in May 2011, according to MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse, a macroeconomic report tracking national retail and services sales.

Without providing figures, the company said in-store jewelry sales were strong for June, boosted by graduations and weddings. However, online jewelry sales fell by 12.9 percent for the month.

Overall year-over-year growth was supported by gasoline and grocery sales. But, as already noted, not all categories showed strength. For example, specialty apparel showed gains while the electronics and appliances, furniture and furnishings and department stores sectors remained in negative territory.

Enjoying its 23rd straight month in positive territory, and now in its eighth consecutive month of double-digit year-over-year growth, e-Commerce was up 15.2 percent over June 2010. However, as mentioned, not all its sub-categories showed growth. In addition to the decline in jewelry sales, The family clothing category slipped by 0.2 percent year-over-year. In contrast, online Women’s clothing sales grew by 12.2 percent year-over-year.

“As we move into the summer, discretionary spending tends to shift to vacation-related categories, usually reflected in travel sales and particularly in lodging, although we are seeing some weakness in those areas,” said Michael McNamara, VP, Research and Analysis for MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse. “At the same time, June is peak season for weddings and graduations, and this may have helped the continuing strong growth of both luxury and jewelry sectors.”

McNamara noted that broad retail growth continued to be hampered by high gas prices, although they are coming down from their early May highs, as well as high unemployment. Those factors may have been further exacerbated in May by exceptionally wet weather in some parts of the country. “On the other hand,” he said, “unfavorable weather and high gasoline prices appear to have helped e-commerce to its eighth consecutive month of double-digit growth.”

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