China to Claim One-third of Luxury Market

Purchases by Chinese both at home and abroad account for over one-quarter of the global total, new survey from McKinsey says.

SHANGHAI -- China will account for one-third of the estimated $175 billion global market for luxury goods by 2015, as growing wealth spurs demand for top-end goods, consultancy McKinsey said Tuesday.

Chinese consumers now account for around 2% of worldwide luxury consumption, estimated at around $145 billion this year, the global management consultancy firm said in a new report.

"Spending by Chinese consumers on luxury products now exceeds that of any other country," said the report, which surveyed more than 1,000 luxury shoppers in 14 Chinese cities.

"China has become the paramount driver of growth in this sector, with purchases by Chinese both at home and abroad accounting for over one-quarter of the global total."

The figure includes spending on items such as high-end bags, shoes, watches, jewelery and clothing.

A slowdown in the Chinese economy and a crackdown on government corruption, which has affected gift-giving, has caused the market to cool this year, but China's wealthy and rising middle class will support future growth, it said.

The market for luxury goods is changing as more Chinese travel abroad and consumers seek more varied brands, McKinsey said.

"A rapidly-growing share of Chinese luxury shoppers are doing their purchasing abroad," it said. "Although Hong Kong and Macau rank among their favored shopping destinations, Europe is also rising quickly in popularity."

High taxes can make imported luxury goods more expensive in China, while the relatively weak euro can make shopping in Europe more attractive.

Chinese consumers still prefer shopping for luxury goods at retail stores, making creating an in-store experience important for companies, with online sales still relatively small, the consultancy said.

"Chinese consumers' tastes in luxury products are maturing with surprising speed," it said, adding experienced shoppers "increasingly prefer low-key and understated goods to ones that are emblazoned with popular logos."

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2012

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