The big slowdown in the Chinese economy and that of the other major emerging countries, with the exception of India, has probably caused the luxury goods sector to record an overall sales increase of only one to two percent in 2015, according to Bain & Co.
While sales of watches declined by about 6 percent, those of shoes rose by about 4 percent. Consumers have been spending more on luxury cars, up by 8 percent; on better hotels, up by 7 percent; and on paintings and other art products, up by 6 percent.
If these figures are confirmed, the overall world market for luxury products experienced the slowest progress since the economic crisis of 2009. The biggest factor has been an actual decrease last year in the Chinese market for luxury products, estimated by Bain at 2 percent. Mainland China represents about 7 percent of the global market.
An even stronger drop of 25 percent took place in Hong Kong last year. In contrast, the luxury goods market rose by an estimated 9 percent in Japan, where many Chinese tourists are now doing their shopping, and by 5 percent in Europe. It was more or less flat in U.S., due to the strong dollar.
The growth of the global luxury goods market is expected to be accelerate slightly to around 3 percent in 2016, according to Bain, with sales of shoes and leathergoods performing above average and rising again by 4 percent.
The Italian fashion industry was definitely affected by the global slowdown last year. The country's Camera Nazionale della Moda, a major fashion industry association, has downgraded its growth estimate for the sector in 2015, indicating that it probably rose by only 1.4 percent to €62 billion. The estimate covers the textiles, clothing, leathergoods and footwear segments.
Italy's exports of these products grew by about 1.8 percent to €47.7 billion, according to preliminary figures, with a negative performance in Russia and on the Asian market and flat sales in the rest of Europe. Imports were up by an estimated 6.9 percent to €30.6 billion.
In the December 2015 issue of Fashion Economics Trends, the organization explains that the negative figures for the third quarter raised questions and uncertainties for the fourth quarter of 2015, and pushed to review the forecast for the full year. For the first six months of 2016, the outlook is for a 2.5 percent increase in both sales and exports.
The luxury goods brands will probably open fewer mono-brand stores in the future, according to speakers at a convention on retailing held by the Altagamma Foundation in Milan a few days ago, partly because millennial consumers are trending toward omni-channel retailing. The slowdown in new store openings has already begun. Between 2004 and 2014, 73 percent of the luxury goods brands' sales were generated by their single-brand stores.