🛍️ Luxury's "richcession"

Monday, March 13, 2023 by Robinhood Snacks |
Bags in bags (Robert Alexander/Getty Images)

Bags in bags (Robert Alexander/Getty Images)

Bags in bags (Robert Alexander/Getty Images)

Bags in bags (Robert Alexander/Getty Images)

Last Week’s Market Moves
Dow Jones
31,910 (-4.44%)
S&P 500
3,862 (-4.55%)
11,139 (-4.71%)
$20,135 (-9.94%)

Hey Snackers,

You might want to sit down for this one. Several flight attendants weighed in on the dos and don'ts of air travel, and, according to experts, reclining your seat is totally fine.

Silicon Valley Bank collapsed on Friday, marking the second-largest bank failure in US history. The news sent stocks even lower for the week as investors digested the bank's takeover by regulators. Meanwhile, mixed jobs data did little to change investors' rate-hike expectations.


Prada? In this economy?… “I could have my Gucci on” takes a literal turn: 62% of respondents in a new Saks Fifth Avenue survey said they planned to spend the same or more on luxury goods in the coming months. It’s a theme: global luxury sales grew 22% last year as consumers shrugged off price hikes from brands like Chanel and Hermès. In January, Dior owner Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton (aka: LVMH) reported record revenue and profit, and last week Prada reported booming annual sales.

Not so home alone… It might seem odd that luxury sales are thriving in this high-interest-rate, recession-flavored environment. But an unlikely cohort may be keeping the cash flowing: young adults who moved back in with the ’rents (#no-pay-rent). Nearly half of US adults 18 to 29 live at home, and Morgan Stanley suggested that some of that money saved on housing is being spent on handbags. Spending by Gen Z and millennials accounted for all of the luxury sector's growth last year. But rent-free livin' is probably not the only luxury booster:

  • IOU for Jacquemus: Consumers have been leveraging credit and buy now, pay later services to make flashy purchases. Credit-card debt is at a record high, soaring 19% last quarter.
  • Gucci-gram: Social media is driving luxe splurging among younger consumers, who see designer staples as TikTok status symbols.
  • The rich = still richer: The top 40% of earners built up $1T+ in extra savings during the pandemic.

A “richcession” could be coming… because even luxury's not immune to macro trends. Shoppers earning between $100K and $200K are feeling more cautious, and some higher earners have been trading down (even Walmart said it's attracting higher-income customers). Because mass layoffs have disproportionately affected higher-income workers (think: tech), wealthier Americans could fare worse than usual in a down market. That could lead to a “richcession,” The Wall Street Journal said. Meanwhile, the hospitality sector (picture: bars, hotels) — which employs Americans with lower incomes — is one of the US’s fastest-growing employers.


The bot battle intensifies… Microsoft is set to host a “Future of Work With AI” event on Thursday, and it’s hoping to excel with some ChatGPT-fueled power points. A possible outlook: Microsoft could introduce AI-infused versions of apps like Word and Outlook (think: email-reply suggestions). It’s already integrated AI into its “new Bing” search. Recently, rival Google held an event to show off its Bard bot, while Meta introduced LLaMA. But concerns around broad use of AI tech remain (especially after the Bing chatbot went viral for unhinged convos).

Blooming estates… The housing market’s been in a chill, but Lennar could experience warmer days ahead. Last quarter the nation’s second-largest homebuilder by sales beat on earnings, but revenue fell short after its new-home orders dipped 15%. High interest rates put a squeeze on housing affordability, sending mortgage applications to a 28-year low. But inventory is also low, as homeowners locked into low rates stay put. Now bidding wars are breaking out for what’s left. The lingering demand could lift Lennar’s results when it reports Thursday.

Zoom Out

Goodbye, unlimited snacks… As corporations cut costs and shift to growth mode, cushy employee perks are vanishing fast. Meta ended free laundry, Salesforce canceled its wellness retreat, and Goldman Sachs nixed free cabs to the office. It’s not just the fun stuff: about half of US companies plan to cut benefits like parental leave, childcare subsidies, and adoption programs. Disappearing perks and layoffs are just a few symptoms of corporates' profit push, which could translate to better returns for investors.

TikTok on the clock… ’cuz the drama don’t stop. Last week the White House endorsed a bipartisan bill that could give President Biden the power to ban TikTok in the US (or force a sale) — and urged Congress to pass it ASAP over national-security concerns. It’s expected to pass in the GOP-controlled House, but its fate is more TBD in the Dem-led Senate. Critics of the bill could also bring challenges over free-speech concerns (FYI: 100M Americans use the app). A Tik ban would be a huge boon for Meta’s Instagram and Google’s YouTube.

  • Lead: Women leaders are leaving companies at the highest rate ever as they continue to be passed over for promotions. Now companies risk losing their current (and next generation) of female leaders.
  • Score: Dick’s Sporting Goods dropped record earnings as shoppers splurged on everything from footwear to team sports merch. Dick’s benefited as shoppers put a $$ premium on their active lifestyles.
  • Register: Amazon plans to close eight of its futuristic Amazon Go convenience stores next month as it backs off of in-person retail. ICYMI: Amazon's brick-and-mortar biz represents only 3% of its revenue.

What else we’re Snackin’

  • Payback: 74% of surveyed shoppers said they had recent service or product problems, and that # is on the rise. Now customers are seeking "revenge" (like: online shaming), which could spell trouble for bottom lines.
  • Muskville: Elon Musk is reportedly building a town outside Austin, Texas, for his Tesla and SpaceX employees. Both SpaceX and the Musk-owned Boring Company are constructing plants near the intended site.
  • Verse: Some companies that launched metaverse experiences are struggling to keep users engaged. But businesses like Vans that built compelling spaces are outliving the hype cycle and seeing brand-building benefits.

Snack Fact of the Day

Clara Zetkin first proposed an international day to advocate for women's demands in 1910

This Week

  • Monday: Earnings expected from GitLab and Getty Images
  • Tuesday: Consumer Price Index. Earnings expected from Lennar
  • Wednesday: Retail sales. Earnings expected from Adobe and Five Below
  • Thursday: Initial jobless claims. Earnings expected from FedEx and Dollar General
  • Friday: Saint Patrick’s Day

Authors of this Snacks own shares of Walmart

ID: 2787594