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American Express Business Insights Data Show Full-Price Online Luxury Fashion Spending Sizzling as New York Fashion Week Heats UpFlash Sale Halo Effect Lighting Up Full-Priced Online Luxury Category
NEW YORK,  February 10, 2012 -- 

With a greater number of consumers having acquired a taste for luxury fashion in recent years through the proliferation of flash sale websites, full-priced online luxury retailers are now reaping the benefits, reveals new data released today from American Express Business Insights during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. Average Spenders -- consumers who fall outside of the top 10% of spenders (Top Spenders) -- are leading spend growth in all fashion categories, including premium luxury and full-priced online luxury retail, while the most active consumers are reining in their spend.

The new findings from American Express Business Insights, which include analyses of in-store and online spending at premium and discount luxury merchants across a range of consumer demographics, are based on actual, aggregated spending data from 2009 through 2011. The new data reveals additional telling shifts in luxury fashion spending both domestically and abroad. While young Gen Y consumers are demonstrating a growing hunger for full-priced online luxury, Seniors are showing a surprisingly voracious appetite for online shopping. Seniors now dominate spend growth on flash sale websites, outpacing growth by all other demographics, whereas they are not bringing the same enthusiasm to the shopping mall. Data shows that Seniors’ spending remained essentially flat at brick and mortar department stores for the same period.

Newly Acquired Taste for Luxury Fashion Results in Win for Premium Retailers
The data suggest that online discount luxury websites -- or flash sales -- have stimulated consumers’ appetites for luxury fashion to such a degree that they are now flocking to full-priced online luxury fashion at a much more rapid pace. Whereas in 2010 flash sales saw a jump of 92% in spending over the year prior by Average Spenders, this gain dropped to 21% for 2011. The growth trajectory was higher for full-priced online luxury websites where spending increased to 25% in 2011 from 20% in 2010.

While it would be difficult to match the 96% growth in flash sales spending by Top Spenders in 2010, this group did increase spending in this category by 5% in 2011. The same group increased spending on full-priced online luxury retail as well, with a 17% gain in 2011.

Additional key findings from the latest research include:

  • Gen Y Makes Statement in Luxury Spend - Mirroring the demand for luxury retail overall, Gen Y consumers increased spend on premium luxury fashion by 33% in 2011 over the year prior. Despite representing the smallest group of luxury consumers today, Gen Y grew spending the most in full-priced online luxury retail, by 31% in 2011 over the year prior, compared to Gen X at 23%, Boomers at 19% and Seniors at 6% for the same period. Gen Y also led spending among all groups in specific retail categories such as jewelry, with an increase of 27% for 2011 as compared to Gen X and Boomers, which increased 2% and 4%, respectively, and Seniors, which declined spend on trinkets and baubles by 3% in 2011.
  • Seniors Show Affinity for Online Luxury Bargain Hunting - While early-adopting Gen Y shoppers have made a clear progression from discount online luxury fashion to full-priced online luxury retail, Seniors overall are increasingly enjoying the concept of luxury flash sales. Seniors led all other age groups in spend growth for online luxury flash sale websites during 2011 at 28%, followed by Gen Y at 19%, Gen X at 12% and Boomers at 9%. Seniors’ overall spend on brick and mortar premium fashion, in contrast, decreased by 1% in 2011 over the year prior.
  • Retail Spending Abroad Dampened by Eurozone Concerns - Looking beyond the U.S., consumers in Europe have noticeably pared back their luxury retail spend as the Eurozone economies look to find traction. Over the prior year period, luxury retail spend showed flat to modest declines across core European regions such as France (0%), Italy (down 4%) and the United Kingdom (down 2%). Fourth quarter 2011 spending further underscored the continuing economic challenges in the Eurozone. All of the European regions studied saw declines during the fourth quarter of 2011 over the same prior year period: France saw spending decline 6%, Italy shrunk luxury spending by 11%, and the U.K. declined 5% during Q4 2011.

“The new focus on full-priced online fashion shows that giving consumers a taste of luxury will undoubtedly help build brand loyalty over time,” said Ed Jay, Senior Vice President at American Express Business Insights. “With Gen Y leading the way -- and even Seniors’ growing interest in flash sales -- online retail is certainly becoming a critical touch point for customer acquisition.”

About American Express Business Insights
As part of the Global Merchant Services organization within American Express Company, American Express Business Insights provides in-depth, actionable insights into consumer and business spending at the business, industry and geographic levels, leveraging proprietary transaction data from the American Express network of approximately 90 million cards in force across over 125 markets.

American Express Business Insights produces in-depth quarterly reports for the Airline, Car Rental, Cruise, Lodging, Restaurant, Entertainment and various Luxury Retail categories, as well as sector-specific geographic reports. These full-length Industry IQ reports are available for purchase at

About Research from American Express Business Insights
The data shown in American Express Business Insights research are derived from transactions on the American Express payment network projected to reflect the general population in the consumer segments shown. The data do not represent American Express’s own performance in the industry segments shown and do not represent the spending behavior of American Express Cardmembers overall or in any particular cardmember segment.



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