April 19, 2010, 12:00 AM

Shoppers return to luxury retail sites, Experian Hitwise reports

Traffic to designer and luxury retail sites increased 28% for the week ending April 10 compared with the same week a year earlier, says Experian Hitwise, which measures Internet traffic.

Traffic to designer and luxury retail sites increased 28% for the week ending April 10 compared with the same week a year earlier, says Experian Hitwise, which measures Internet traffic. That’s a significant change from April 2009 when traffic to such sites fell 18% for the week ending April 11 compared with the previous year.

Among the 54 retailers in the Experian Hitwise designer and luxury category, Nordstrom experienced the highest increase in visits compared with the previous year. That was followed by Ralph Lauren Media, Neiman Marcus and online luxury retailer Gilt Groupe. Other retailers in the top 10 include high-end brands Gucci, Prada and Burberry.

Not surprisingly, households with higher incomes were over-represented among visitors to luxury retail sites, Experian Hitwise says. Households making more than $100,000 represented 28% of all visits to the 54 sites. Only 20% of U.S. housholds had incomes over $100,000 in 2008, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

“The economic downturn in the U.S. had a strong impact upon consumers and resulted in a decline in discretionary spending for nearly two years,” Experian Hitwise says in a blog post. “However in March, retailers started to report increased sales, signaling that consumer confidence may be increasing and shoppers are willing to start making purchases again. One sector that was among the hardest hit during the downturn was the luxury space, but recently retailers like Nordstrom, Saks and Bergdorf Goodman are also reporting higher year-over-year sales.”

MasterCard SpendingPulse, a survey of consumer spending using all payment forms, reported a 22.7% in spending on luxury goods both online and offline in March compared with a year earlier.

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