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Crisis boosts sales of luxury goods

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Not even Christmas shopping prevented revenues of most retailers from falling, but the crisis has been avoiding the most luxurious Prague street. Boutiques on Pařížská, where spending a six-digit sum for shoes or a handbag is nothing exceptional, are even reporting higher sales compared to the same period last year.

Waiting list for handbags

“They’re cancelling waiting lists for handbags in American stores. We, on the other hand, are introducing them for handbags like Birkin,” said Ivana Rudičová from Prague’s Hermes store, adding that this year’s total revenues are definitely higher than last year.

Also the Louis Vuitton store, located a few houses away, is reporting greater sales. “At at time of crisis people are trying to buy things that are of good quality and timeless,” said Martina Lewis, the firm’s PR manager.

“Some of our customers see handbags as an investment,” Rudičová adds. It is mostly leather handbags that belong among those that can be sold for more than the original price in an internet auction. A Birkin handbag from crocodile leather decorated with diamonds was sold for USD 90,000 (CZK 1.7 million) in an internet auction on e-bay on Sunday. A less luxurious model can be purchased for about CZK 250,000 in the Czech Republic.

Handbags named after the British actress Jane Birkin are hand-made in Paris. The company, which used to make horse saddles once, offers luxury in a big style to its customers. Every handbag has its own pedigree and if it gets damaged the same person that sewed it will repair it. Every shop can order only a limited number of pieces. And the Prague store has already used up its “Birkin-limit” for this year.

Queue for Vuitton

An evening walk through Pařížská street supports the information on revenues. There are now even queues behind the cash desks of stores where the number of shop assistants usually exceeds the number of customers. A queue of three people, which fits in the spacious Vuitton store, is more prominent in the smaller space of Chez Parisienne offering women’s underwear.

The financial crisis has simply not reached the lace negligee by Nina Ricci yet.

“Maybe it will affect the Czech Republic later,” said Lenka Vejvalková, who owns Prague stores Prada, Versace, Ermenegildo Zegna and Salvatore Ferragamo. Her shops have not recorded a decline in comparison with previous years either.

Boutique owners on Pařížská, moreover, agree that the number of local customers is rising. “This year for the first time we had more Czech than foreign customers,” said Martina Lewis.

While earlier Czech customers chose mainly less costly goods, now they bring leather handbags of various colours mixed to measure or crocodile leather high heels from Pařížská.

Bright colours of this year’s autumn and winter collections in the shop windows, which break up the winter dullness, do not at all admit the existence of the crisis.

Translated with permission by the Prague Daily Monitor.

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