U.S. Luxury Spending Growth Slows as Jewelry Demand Falls

Spending on luxury goods in the U.S. has slowed since the end of the year, with jewelry putting in a worse performance, MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse said.

Luxury sales, excluding jewelry, climbed 1.8 percent in April from a year earlier, after gaining 6.7 percent in the first quarter and 13 percent in the fourth quarter, Purchase, New York-based SpendingPulse said. Jewelry sales fell 3.7 percent in April. Tiffany & Co. (TIF) today cut its profit and sales forecasts amid weaker-than-expected results in the U.S.

Sales growth in luxury goods is slowing amid restrained spending from tourists after posting strong gains in 2011, Michael McNamara, a SpendingPulse vice president said. Luxury sales occur in large cities, particularly New York, and demand is dropping because of the stronger dollar and Europe’s economic troubles, he said. Stock market gains that bolster the confidence of affluent consumers also haven’t been enough, he said.

“The environment is getting more difficult,” McNamara said in a telephone interview today. “It doesn’t seem that the wealth effect is enough to hold the sector up against economic headwinds.”

Jewelry sales turned downward last month after a 5.3 percent increase in the first quarter and a 7.4 percent gain in the fourth quarter.

The figures include sales at the top 10 percent of prices. SpendingPulse tracks retail sales across all payment forms.

To contact the reporter on this story: Cotten Timberlake in Washington at ctimberlake@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Robin Ajello at rajello@bloomberg.net

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