U.S. remains the world’s largest luxury goods market in 2012

Euromonitor‘s latest research on the global luxury markets, indicates another solid year’s performance in store for 2012, despite persistent economic turbulence, mounting troubles in the Eurozone and on-going political instability in several emerging markets. Driven mainly by strength in emerging economies, overall retail growth in 2012 is set to be stronger than in 2011, with luxury goods sales expected to exceed US$302 billion worldwide. This represents a year-on-year real value gain of over 4% on 2011.

Developed countries remain by far the largest spenders on personal luxury. The four biggest luxury goods markets– the US, Japan, Italy and France– together account for almost half of value sales in 2012. In 2012 demand for luxury goods has been lacklustre in the developed markets of North America, Western Europe and Japan as jittery middle class consumers reined in discretionary spending in the face of rising inflation and mounting insecurity over jobs and pensions. Nevertheless, the US remains the world’s largest luxury goods market, accounting for over a quarter of the overall value sales of luxury goods in 2012. The UK luxury goods industry is also under fierce pressure, as inflation climbs and wages freeze.

With a combined retail value of over US$33 billion in 2012 the BRICs now account for 11% of total luxury sales, up from just 4% in 2004. However by 2017 this figure is set to increase further by 78% in real value terms to reach US$59 billion, representing almost 16% of the global luxury goods market.

Despite accounting for just over 1% of the global luxury market, Brazil is set to become a key future consumption hub and the target of investment interest by many of the world’s leading luxury goods brands. Shopping mall developments are also generating major interest among global luxury goods retailers, with upwards of 100 new malls on course to open by 2014.

Over the next five years, designer apparel – the largest luxury goods category by value in 2012 – is forecast to remain the world’s largest, accounting for 42% of total luxury revenue in 2017. Jewellery and timepieces are projected to grow by more than 38% over the next five years to reach a projected real value of US$76 billion. Asia Pacific will account for almost 38% of value sales in luxury jewellery and timepieces, growing by an impressive 207% over the 2012-2017 period. This steep trajectory will predominantly be led by the emerging economies of China and India.

The prospect of a protracted period of economic instability in Western Europe is leading to strong investments in affordable luxury. Affordable luxury is primarily visible in designer apparel and luxury accessories, which had a combined value share of over 56% of total luxury goods sales in 2012.

Bergdorf Goodman luxury department store, New York