Barneys tops list of favorite luxury retailers

Stevens, Pa. -- A survey released Tuesday by Unity Marketing revealed the list of retailers frequented by the most wealthy American shoppers – those earning $250,000 and up.

Barneys New York, Nordstrom and Bergdorf Goodman ranked as the top luxury department stores among the ultra-affluent in the Luxury Report 2011. However, the survey also uncovered signs that the wealthiest consumers are slowing their pace of shopping in these stores.

Barneys New York, which currently attracts some 22% of ultra-affluent consumers, has weathered two quarters in the past year when patronage dipped as low as 16%. And while Nordstrom ranks as the second most popular destination, its share of purchase among ultra-affluents dropped by more than 5 percentage points from fourth quarter 2010 to first quarter 2011.

In fact, among the seven leading luxury department stores included in Unity Marketing's luxury tracking survey, only one -- Saks Fifth Avenue -- captured a larger share of ultra-affluent shoppers this quarter as compared with last.

The survey showed that luxe department store patronage among ultra-affluents is down after peaking in third quarter 2010. Even more striking is the decline in the percentage of ultra-affluents shopping in these luxe department stores overall. While the percentage of ultra-affluents shopping in luxury department stores peaked at nearly three out of four in third quarter 2010, it has declined precipitously since, leveling off at about 70%.

"While the popularity of each store waxes and wanes quarter-to-quarter, the overall trend is that ultra-affluents are slowing their pace of shopping in the luxury department store sector,” said Pam Danziger, president of Unity Marketing and author of Putting the Luxe Back in Luxury. “If the downward trend among ultra-affluents continues, each of these stores may have to rethink their approach if they are to remain a compelling and attractive destination for the wealthy."

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