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中国反腐倡廉行动抑制奢侈品消费

Nin-Hai Tseng 2013年04月23日

部分分析人士认为,一些奢侈品销售数据弱于预期,主要是由于消费增长放缓。但这种放缓更多的是反映了中国政府反腐行动的影响,而不是中国消费者购买力的减弱。正因为如此,博柏利等奢侈品牌依然把扩张的重点放在了中国等亚太地区。

    去年很多人都预测由中国推动的奢侈品消费热潮将终结,但从英国奢侈品牌博柏利(Burberry)的最新销售报告来看,中国的消费比我们很多人想象得都更有韧性。

    本月上旬,博柏利公布的销售额好于预期,主要得益于中国内地和香港对这个奢侈品牌的标志性手袋和2,000多美元的双排扣外套需求旺盛。截至3月31日的三个月,销售额增长了11%至7.72亿美元。亚太地区(特别是中国内地和香港)下半年的同店销售额增长居首。

    这么好的数字从很多方面来看都非常令人意外:此时距离上次博柏利公布盈利预警以及金融危机以来最糟的同店销售额还不到一年。去年9月的这些消息曾导致博柏利股价一日暴跌21%,并引发全球奢侈品市场将逐步衰落的担忧,因为中国一直是全球奢侈品消费的主力之一。随着中国这个全球第二大经济体的增长放缓,很难想象深陷债务的欧美消费者能够补上这个缺口。

    但博柏利的最新销售报告显示,可能并不需要欧美消费者操心。最近中国内地的一波新店开业推动了亚太地区的销售增长;亚太是博柏利最大、也是增长最快的地区。

    没错,中国的经济增长总体已经放缓。本月早些时候,中国公布今年第一季度GDP增长7.7%,低于普遍预期的8%。(奢侈品销售)数据弱于预期主要是由于消费增长放缓。但这更多的是反映了中国政府反腐行动的影响,而不是中国消费者购买力的减弱。

    今年早些时候,中国国家主席习近平发起了一场反腐倡廉运动,要求政府和国企官员减少铺张浪费,警告称,无度支出可能会导致执政党下台。他还下令禁止公款吃喝、奢侈品贿赂(比如赠送LV包)等行为。

    “我们预计普通消费需求将保持韧性,但高端食品饮料和饭店的销售情况已经受到中国新一代领导人反腐倡廉运动的冲击… ”美国银行(Bank of America)分析师本月上旬在一份面向客户的报告中写到。

    分析人士预计中国政府的反腐运动将继续抑制零售销售的增长。本季度,博柏利或许躲过了销售额放缓,但反腐运动必然会逐渐带来影响。路易威登集团(LVMH)已经感到了压力。本月上旬,LVMH公布的服装和皮制品业务收入增幅为三年多来最低,带动奢侈品板块股票整体下挫。导致LVMH收入增长放缓的是日本旅游业滑坡以及中国门店客流量下降。

    Plenty of people were expecting an end to the China-led luxury boom last year, but as Burberry's latest sales report suggests, China's consumers are more resilient than many of us think.

    On Wednesday, the British fashion house reported better-than-expected sales, thanks largely to strong demand in China and Hong Kong for handbags and the $2,000-plus trench coats the luxury brand is famous for. Sales rose 11% to $772 million in the three months ended March 31. The Asia-Pacific region, particularly China and Hong Kong, led same-store sales growth during the second half of the year.

    The strong numbers are surprising in a few big ways: It was less than a year ago that Burberry (BURBY) issued a surprise profit warning and reported its worst same-store sales since the financial crisis. The move last September sent shares plunging 21% in one day and raised worries about a gradual decline in the global luxury market, which has largely been driven by China. With growth slowing in the world's second-largest economy, it was hard to imagine consumers in debt-troubled U.S. or Europe would pick up the slack.

    As Burberry's latest sales report suggests, they didn't have to. A recent spate of store openings in China contributed to a recovery in sales growth in the Asia Pacific, the luxury brand's biggest and fastest-growing region.

    True, China' growth overall has slowed down. Earlier this week, it reported GDP grew 7.7%during the first three months of this year, lower than the 8% widely expected. The disappointing results were largely driven by a slowdown in consumption growth, but that reflects less on the strength of China's consumers than the government's efforts to curb corruption.

    Earlier this year, Chinese President Xi Jinping launched a campaign to rein in lavish spending by officials and state-owned companies, warning that excessive spending threatened to bring down the ruling Communist Party. He ordered an end to such things as taxpayer-financed banquets and bribes that have been known to come in the form of Louis Vuitton bags.

    "We think ordinary consumption demand will remain resilient, but sales of high-end food and beverages, and restaurants could have been hit by the new leaders' frugality campaign … " Bank of America analysts wrote in a report released to clients on Monday.

    Analysts expect the government's anti-extravagance campaign to continue weighing on retail sales growth. Burberry might have dodged slower sales this quarter, but the campaign could eventually hit them. Already, LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA (LVMHF) is under pressure. On Tuesday, the retailer rattled luxury stocks after reporting the slowest growth in fashion and leather-goods revenue in more than three years because of a drop in Japanese tourism and fewer customers visiting stores in China.

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