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Global sales of luxury items beating expectations

Designer clothes sales, particularly to wealthy Americans and Chinese, are lifting the luxury sector. Designer clothes sales, particularly to wealthy Americans and Chinese, are lifting the luxury sector. (Christophe Simon/AFP/Getty Images)
Associated Press / October 18, 2010

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MILAN — The luxury sector is rebounding better than expected this year, thanks in large part to wealthy Americans replenishing their wardrobes after a year of self-denial and nouveau riche Chinese indulging in a worldwide spending spree, according to a study released today.

Sales of designer clothes, fine leather goods, jewelry, watches, and other indulgences are forecast to surge 10 percent to $236.7 billion in 2010, recovering from a disastrous 2009, when sales declined 8 percent, Boston-based Bain & Co. said in its annual review of the sector, commissioned by Italy’s Fondazione Altagamma, an association of high-end producers.

“It is really impressive how customers have rebounded in their approach to these purchases, in particular in the United States and in Europe,’’ said Bain partner Claudia D’Arpizio.

Sales in the US market were up 12 percent, compared with 6 percent growth in Europe and 22 percent growth in Asia, Bain said.

Leather goods, the only category to hold steady during last year’s dramatic declines, is expected to grow by 16 percent; apparel, the leading sector, grew 8 percent.

The holiday season will solidify the results, and Bain is allowing for a final tally of 9 percent growth for modest increases and 11 percent if shoppers come out strong. Growth will cool in 2011 to 3 percent to 5 percent, due to the likely continued lowering of the dollar against the euro and the strength of this year’s sales.

Asian luxury sales were powered by China, where sales grew a whopping 30 percent. Japan recorded a 1 percent contraction.