While financial markets were collapsing globally last year, women in Sydney and Melbourne were spending up big on special occasion fashion purchases, according to American Express Merchant Services credit card usage data between Spring 2007 and 2008.
“It appears women in both cities couldn’t give up their love affair with special occasion clothing (couture and wedding fashion) or shoes despite the bad economic news coming from the US,” said Australian National Retailers Association (ANRA) CEO Margy Osmond today.
According to Geoff Begg, head of client management for American Express Global Merchant Services Australia and New Zealand, Melbourne women spent more on shoes and clothes than women in Sydney.
“Women in Sydney spent three per cent more on shoes and 13 per cent more on special occasion fashion between 2007 and 2008. Meanwhile, Melbourne ladies spent six per cent more on shoes, and 17 per cent more on special occasion fashion.”
But the ladies did cut back on accessories like bags, scarves, hats and belts. Sydney ladies spent 12 per cent less on accessories in 2008, and Melbourne women spent 19 per cent less compared to Spring 2007.
The only category where Sydney and Melbourne ladies diverged was designer fashion.
“While Sydney women were cutting back on designer labelled frocks by 16 per cent, Melbourne ladies spent three per cent more,” said Begg.
“This trend probably reveals the power of the Spring Racing Carnival in Victoria.”
Osmond said the spending trend told an interesting story.
“This trend shows just how resilient certain clothing categories are. Regardless of the economic circumstances, weddings, formals and balls still happen and women often want to buy something new,” she said.
However, the outlook for this Spring does not look as positive according to a new survey of spending intentions. The online survey of 1000 women aged 18 and over was undertaken in the first week of Spring.
“Women are telling us they will be reluctant to open their wallets much this Spring, and when they do, it will be for something they really want,” said Osmond.
“A massive 60 per cent of ladies say that if they see something they really like and want, they will just buy it. So, the tough task for retailers this Spring is identifying what appeals to these women.”
The majority of women say they will be Spring shopping at general merchandise shops i.e. Big W and Target (38 per cent) followed by department stores (29 per cent), speciality retailers (16 per cent) and boutiques (nine per cent). Only those women earning $100,000 or more say they will shop at department stores (41 per cent).
“Most women say they will spend $100 or less on shoes, accessories, corporate wear, designer labels and jewellery. The majority of women are not planning to spend more on shoes, casual wear, make-up and cosmetics than they did last Spring,” said Osmond.