European retailers see consumer spending trend

Consumer spending in Europe has gotten off to a great start this season. In this critical holiday sales time, European retailers are reporting high spending on outerwear to weather the chill, accessories such as footwear and high-end jewelry, menswear and premium food items.

“We feel the consumer is bizarrely serene,” Jean-Claude Biver, chief executive officer for watch brand Hublot, told WWD. “This makes me think we are only partially in crisis. We are now in an economic environment where some people continue to suffer and others have emerged from the crisis, and I think the latter are starting to buy again.”

Biver, who has found sales to be “excellent,” predicts 20-percent growth in 2011. And Bruno Pavlovsky, president of Chanel fashion, revealed that Chanel’s recent cruise collection is one of the brand’s best launches ever.

Yet many, including Pavlovsky, are proceeding with caution.

According to German market research firm GfK’s November report, “consumers [are] in the mood for pre-Christmas spending.” The firm stated that propensity to buy grew last month, prompted by six months of steady growth of economic expectations – even in light of German shoppers’ tendency to curtail spending when difficulties approach.

Trouble may be brewing in Ireland, Spain, Portugal and Italy, but Germany is displaying improvement: The German central bank is predicting the greatest expansion in more than 10 years.

The German Retail Federation (HDE) is also seeing signs of promising spending – making retailers claim satisfaction with holiday purchasing. HDE director Stefan Genth cited their recent retail survey, which shows stronger seasonal business over last year. Customers were particularly inclined toward purchasing winter weather gear such as scarves and jackets.

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