Fashion can’t count on tourists coming to the rescue again

When writing about seasonal trends, I often find it helpful to look at what was written last. What struck me about the start of the peak travel season in 2022 was how everyone — brands, analysts, journalists — was convinced it was going to be a very, very good spring and summer. More or less it turned out that way. tourism boomed (except China, which is still in zero Covid lockdown). Travelers, especially the wealthy, splurged on new wardrobes.

Heading into Easter this coming weekend, followed by a few weeks of Memorial Day in the US and then the summer holidays, the outlook is not so bright. For many brands, sales peaked shortly after that magical summer, and giants like Levi’s, Gucci and Estée Lauder posted rare fourth-quarter revenue declines. Rising interest rates and the Silicon Valley bank crisis haven’t helped consumer sentiment since then. Forecasters predict that Americans in particular will travel more this year, but inflation could take a toll. extra dollars spent on airfare and hotels leave less to spend on swimwear and summer dresses.

Elsewhere, the picture is also blurry. Images of Paris riots and litter piled up on the streets can deter travel to the city, where international tourists are a key market for many luxury brands. Perhaps not. There are signs that protests and strikes are abating, and past unrest has not damaged Paris’ status as a major holiday destination.

Ironically, the exception to the gloomier consensus this time is again China, only in the opposite direction. Chinese citizens can travel around the world for the first time since 2019. Forecasters are wary of how quickly international travel will return. Oxford Economics predicts such traffic will reach 48 percent of 2019 levels this year, and many analysts expect Asian tourism hubs. see a faster decline than Europe, the US and other distant destinations. There are already reports that Chinese tourists are experiencing flight cancellations, shortages of aircraft and cabin crew and other inconveniences that the rest of the world did after reopening. That didn’t stop Americans, Brits or Australians from spending last year, of course. And even a trickle of Chinese tourists would be welcome news for shops in Milan, Paris, New York and beyond that once relied on these visitors.

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