Luxury retailers resilient, forecasts bullish

NEW YORK, Tue Aug 14, 2012 – Affluent shoppers shrugged off anxiety about the global economy that cast a pall over the luxury sector in the spring, leading Estee Lauder, Michael Kors and Saks to issue bullish sales forecasts.

Consumers showed a willingness to pay for high-end handbags and designer gowns and anti-aging creams despite fears earlier this year that rocky stock markets and worries about the euro zone financial crisis and the global economy would dampen luxury spending.

“We have not seen any change in traffic in the full price channel,” Michael Kors Holdings Ltd. CEO John Idol said on a conference call on Tuesday.

Kors raised its full-year sales and profit forecast and said it expects same-store sales, a key retail measure, to rise 30 percent.

Kors and Saks Inc. also each offered fewer markdowns than expected.

At the same time, consumers continued to travel, snapping up Estee Lauder Cos. Inc.’s beauty goods at its airport stores, and flocking to department stores to buy Michael Kors eyeglasses and watches.

More broadly, the government reported U.S. retail sales increased in July for the first time in four months as demand rose broadly for everything from cars to electronics. That signaled consumers could drive faster growth in the third quarter.