Chinese luxury shopping grows overseas, in U.S., NYC

Luxury stores such as Tiffany & Co. are

Luxury stores such as Tiffany & Co. are preparing to welcome Chinese shoppers boosting China know-how before peak seasons such as the weeklong Lunar New Year beginning Jan. 31. Tiffany has seen strong growth in the China market as the allure of diamonds grows, and it said last month that sales at its flagship Manhattan store were driven by Chinese and European tourists. (Credit: Bloomberg )

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More than two-thirds of luxury spending by mainland Chinese was made overseas in 2013, an increase from 2012, according to the China Luxury Market Study from consultancy firm Bain & Co. released Monday.

Chinese shoppers often wait for trips abroad, plan shopping sprees to Hong Kong or get friends or specialist "daigou" agencies to bring back luxury items from overseas because they are often cheaper due to China's high import taxes.

China is the No. 1 luxury spender worldwide, making up 29 percent of total global luxury spending this year, according to the Bain report.

Chinese luxury spending slowed at home in the wake of a crackdown on corruption and shows of wealth, prompting warnings of a sales slowdown from liquor maker Pernod Ricard SA and Volkswagen-owned Bentley Motors and Lamborghini.

Luxury-brand store openings dropped significantly in 2013, according to Bain, which estimated China's luxury market will grow 2 percent this year versus 7 percent a year earlier.

In New York, luxury stores have been getting ready to welcome Chinese shoppers, boosting China know-how before peak seasons such as the weeklong Lunar New Year beginning Jan. 31.

On Fifth Avenue, jeweler Tiffany & Co. said it employs Mandarin-speaking staff.

Tiffany has seen strong growth in the China market as the allure of diamonds grows, and it said last month that sales at its flagship New York store were driven by Chinese and European tourists.

Around 1.5 million Chinese travelers visited the United States in 2012, a more than fivefold increase from 2005, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Saks Fifth Avenue, the department store unit of Hudson's Bay Co., has a Lunar New Year strategy to focus on beauty products, while the flagship store of Macy's Inc. has a visitor center with Chinese-language material.

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