China to pass Japan as top luxury market

Updated: 2011-06-09 21:11
Large Medium Small

BEIJING - China is expected to replace Japan as the world's top consumer of luxury goods by 2012 due to its growing demand and the declining consumption in Japan, the World Luxury Association (WLA) said Thursday.

The luxury goods sales value in the Chinese market, excluding private jets, yachts and luxury cars, will hit $14.6 billion in 2012,the WLA predicted in a survey released in Beijing. That would be an increase from $10.7 billion in a 13-month period from February 2010 to March this year, according to the WLA.

The survey ranks China second with a 27-percent market share of global consumption by the end of May, slightly lower than Japan's 29 percent, and higher than 14 percent for the United States and 18 percent for Europe.

According to the survey, Chinese spent more on luxury goods overseas, such as the $50 billion worth of purchases of luxury goods solely in Europe last year.

"China has been rising with the fastest annual growth," said Michael Ouyang, the Chief of World Luxury Association China office.

The United States, Europe and Japan have scant room for further sales growth in the next one to three years, while more luxury brands will rush to tap the Chinese market, he said. Those companies that have opened stores in China's first-tier cities will embrace more opportunities in the second and their-tier cities, he added.

Luxury goods sales in Japan, the current top market, have been crippled by the devastating earthquake in March, which forced 49 percent of brand stores to halt business for one month after the disaster, according to the survey.

It expected the slump in sales will continue for a year, and 70 percent of brands will shift their commercial plans to China.

A stronger yuan and a weaker euro will also increase purchasing power of Chinese consumers, the survey said.