The Luxury ‘In-Store’ Experience

Luxury Auction. Leonard Joel

Whilst it’s not normally my style, I thought that it was timely to write about the change in retail practice by the major international luxury stores. It is no news that during the Covid pandemic, the major brands reported massive profits. It seems that no matter what, we couldn’t get enough of, or live without, our designer items. Post-pandemic, we experienced shortages all round and luxury goods were not exempt. This had a tremendous impact on the secondary market which thrived because of the situation. Then came the shot in the arm, as things adjusted to the ‘new normal’, prices for designer goods skyrocketed to an all-time high, and still the public kept coming back for more. 

Luxury Auction. Leonard Joel
Schiaparelli, pair of hinged cuffs. Sold for $687

Even in pre-pandemic times, it was commonplace to see queues of potential buyers waiting outside luxury boutiques to see the latest and greatest goodies on offer. Now I feel it is all part of the marketing strategy. For those who are potentially serious clients, it is best to make an appointment with a client service assistant before you visit. This will allow you entry into your favourite store without the wait. For the stores, this also sorts out if the client is genuinely interested in making a decent purchase, which is the name of the game. For those who are undecided or just want to browse, it’s the back of the queue. Designer boutiques do not seem welcoming to those wanting to buy items at entry level, like a small accessory or fragrance, those buyers are directed online.

The mass marketing of entry point designer label items which began in the 1980s to lure in new clients has served its purpose. Will it backfire however, if clients do not get the chance of the in-store experience? As a secondary market seller of luxury goods, I hear many stories, and here is one example. Recently, a client came to the Luxury auction viewing wanting a particular Chanel double flap handbag. Whilst she was happy with what we had on offer, she said ‘John, I’d rather go into Chanel for the in-store experience’. After queuing for an hour and finally entering the store, the client was informed that there were no bags available and that they were not taking orders. Not really what you want to hear when you are trying to make a significant purchase. Happily, the designer double flap bag was purchased at auction and a new client relationship was made.

Don’t get me wrong, as I am a huge fan of luxury brands and the quality and prestige associated with owning something special. I just feel that potential buyers are being denied the in-store experience that creates future demand, and long-term clients who are devoted to particular designer houses.

As for me, I love the variety the secondary market offers; you won’t catch me in a queue.

John D’AGATA / Head of Luxury

Banner Image: Chanel, Jumbo Double Flap Handbag. Sold for $8,125

May 2023