Chinese tourists flock to top-end stores in Paris such as Hermès or Christian Dior — but the global coronavirus outbreak threatens to hit sales for top luxury retailers both in Europe and in malls across China.
Chinese customers have become a key demographic brands such as Louis Vuitton, Chanel, and Prada. Research group Bain & Co estimates they account for more than one-third of sales.
“We can’t know at this stage what the outcome or duration will be of the epidemic,” LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault told the Financial Times on Friday. “The impact on the business won’t be too bad if it lasts two months but if it lasts two years that would be another story.”
European airlines such as British Airways, Air France and Alitalia have temporarily halted flights between mainland China and their European hubs. This has resulted in many Chinese tourists cancelling their trips – and many stores seeing a drop in shopping tourism.
“If you go to Rinascente in Milan – the best department store in Italy, 60 per cent of the shoppers are Chinese. That will be an immediate impact this month when the shows come to Milan. Those people will not be there,” said Godfrey Deeny, Global Editor-in-Chief of Fashion Network.
Deeny estimates that the cancelled flights, as well as travel restrictions, will leave many seats open at Fashion week events across the world.
“We’re expecting very few Chinese people to turn up. Very few influencers, celebrities, buyers for the big Chinese stores,” he added.
Even Angelica Cheung, editor in Chief of Vogue’s mainland China edition, will miss out. Deeny says Cheung told him that she will miss New York Fashion Week’s runway shows that start Friday.