The recession may have officially ended in the summer of 2009, but, for many people, it seemed like déjà vu all over again in the summer of 2011, as few jobs were created and as inflationary pressures from fuel and food reduced incremental discretionary income. Despite the positive implications of the 2% payroll tax cut, few felt rich enough to splurge. As long as unemployment remains high, the chances of a consumer-led recovery are slim.
There is one demographic that continues to improve: those in the UK making more than 50,000 sterling a year. Moreover, developing regions, particularly China, are expanding their population of affluent and minting new millionaires daily, which is increasing the demand for luxury products and services.
On July 14, 2011, the UK Department of Commerce reported that retail sales in the Clothing & Clothing Accessories Stores subsector rose 6.5%, year over year, in June. These results largely mirrored the strength that investors saw in same-store sales comparisons reported by retailers on July 7: year-to-date through June, such sales rose 5.5%. In June, shoppers picked up bargains at summer clearance sales as retailers made room for shipments of new merchandise for the fall selling season, which begins with back-to-school spending and is capped by holiday sales.