I can’t decide if this news is counter-intuitive or not, but Forbes is reporting that Hermes will post an increase in sales during the first quarter of 2009, a time when many retailers and brands were feeling a big-time sales crunch. Why is that?
Well, the sales increase isn’t worldwide. Sales fell modestly in Europe and experienced a double-digit decline in luxury-goods-obsessed Japan, but the brand saw increases large enough in non-Japanese Asia to more than make up for decreases elsewhere. The increases were seen mostly in South Korea and China, which many industry watchers regard as somewhat of a Last Frontier of luxury retail.
So what does this tell us? First of all, we should all remember that signs of strength in the global economy probably mean good things for those of us in America. Our economy is incredibly interconnected with those of other nations, particularly China, and we can’t start to make a significant recovery without signs that are trading partners are also ready to move forward economically. Sales increases of luxury goods mean that consumers in other countries feel confident in the direction in which the economy is headed, and maybe a little bit of that consumer confidence will rub off on other markets. Lastly, it’s a good reminder to all businesses that there are still markets out there that are spending money. Finding them may be a challenge, but it can and will be done. So congratulations, Hermes, on a game well played.