Global luxury sales to show third straight year of double-digit growth in 2012, says report

Global luxury sales are likely to record their third consecutive year of double-digit growth in 2012 following the global recession, boosted by purchases at home and abroad by Chinese shoppers, according to a new report by business consultancy Bain & Company.

Luxury goods, including jewelry, clothing, accessories, cosmetics and art, will jump 10 percent this year to US$274 billion (€212 billion) from US$248 billion (€192 billion) in 2011, the consultancy said in the report.

Chinese luxury shoppers have this year become a very important sector, responsible for a quarter of global purchases in the sector. Meanwhile, Europeans make up 24 percent of global sales, Americans 20 percent, and the Japanese 14 percent.

Bain predicts that tourists will be responsible for 40 percent of all luxury purchases in 2012, with the Chinese in the forefront as a result of relaxed visa policies.

Ironically, despite the financial problems that some European countries are facing, the continent is forecast to see a 5 percent rise in luxury sales, albeit half of last year's growth to around US$97 billion (€75 billion) due to Chinese tourists making more than 30 percent of their purchases in Europe.

Bain also reveals that the combined market of China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan will outstrip Japan to become the luxury sector's second-largest market worth US$35 billion (€27.3 billion), behind the United States with a forecast of sales of US$84 billion (€65 billion).

Bain predicts annual global expansion in the personal luxury goods market of 4-6 percent through to 2015 when it is forecast to be worth US$323 billion (€250 billion).

Bain also forecasts that consumer spending in the fourth quarter will increase by 7 percent on the same period last year, a critical time for retailers as the Christmas holiday season kicks in