Are men really responsible for the recent uptick in China’s luxury market? The experts say yes. Currently, men account for about 55 percent of the country’s luxury purchases, dwarfing the global average of just 40 percent, according to CLSA. While growing numbers of affluent men are eager to don stylish clothes, the high percentage of their purchases may have more to do with official gift-giving expectations than personal preferences.

Their shopping patterns are quite different from women’s: “Men are not prone to impulse shopping,” sais Mariana Kou, CLSA’s consumer and gaming analyst in Hong Kong. “They tend to wait a little if the economy is pretty uncertain.” But even still, they know what they want, and when they want it.

Following the recent economic slump, Burberry said that its Asia-Pacific sales have risen 15 percent in the three months to December, compared to just 2 percent in the U.S. and no growth in Europe. The brand mentioned that men’s clothing in particular is up 50 percent over the final three months of 2012, and that sales of men’s accessories – including handbags – have shot up 40 percent.

Men have been seen flocking to the Gucci store at the Wynn Casino in Macau, anxious to snap up leather wallets and shoulder bags. Sales in Hong Kong, a popular shopping spree locale, are also on the rise: retail sales climbed 9.5 percent on the year in November. Accessories were up 13.7 percent after a 2.9 percent decline in October.

“The intention to purchase is very high right across the board, from Coach to Bottega Veneta,” said Shanghai-based author Paul French, chief China market strategist at Mintel, which specializes in Chinese consumer trends. “I think the only reason there was a dip was because the gifting market, the corruption market was of course weak last year because you didn’t know who to buy for.”

Recently, Beijing has threatened to crack down on corruption, leaving some luxury brands holding their breath to see if gift sales will continue to drive the economy upward. But with the major gifting holidays  — Chinese New Year and then the National People’s Congress in March – the luxury sector is expecting some bump up.

With 1.3 billion status-hungry consumers, China surpassed the U.S. last year to become the world’s biggest spenders on luxury goods., according to Bain & Co.


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