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Saks Fifth Avenue CEO Lauds Holiday Luxury Buying Binge

Saks Fifth Avenue CEO Marc Metrick said luxury retail could be called “comfort food” for those mired in pandemic-related stress, CNBC reported.

Metrick asked “why else” someone would be buying 110-millimeter pumps “from a luxury brand, when you’re working at home and on Zoom all day,” according to CNBC.

“People were buying things in the height of the pandemic that there was no absolute functional end use for, but they love the fashion,” Metrick said Thursday (Jan. 21) during a virtual presentation at the National Retail Federation‘s Big Show event, CNBC reported. “I think what we learned is [consumers] view luxury as the comfort food of retail. … It was their way to feel — it was something so much more and so much deeper than a pair of shoes.”

Metrick said consumers have been shopping to feel better, comparing the phenomenon to an “Oreo cookie.”

Luxury retailers have generally posted positive sales in the past year, CNBC reported, with Neiman Marcus and Tiffany & Co. similarly reporting that people seemed to be splurging on expensive items, even as consumers in general were spending less money eating out and traveling.

For that reason, along with the general safety concerns, Metrick also noted that the personal-shopper service Saks offers has also seen new use, CNBC reported. He said people shopping for luxury products “want the experience.”

“You don’t want it to be simply a transaction,” he said, according to CNBC.

In November, PYMNTS reported that while the pandemic hadn’t been kind to the industry, luxury retailers had seen a change in their business. Online sales had been doing well, making up for the 23 percent drop in the market since the pandemic began — the first major contraction since 2009. But online sales spiked from 12 percent to 23 percent year over year.

In addition, the items that consumers want have changed. Consumers now seek options that are associated with diversity, inclusion and sustainability.

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