While consumers have economic stimulus checks worth a total of $50 billion in their pockets shoppers opted not to splurge on luxury goods. Stevan Buxbaum, executive vice president of Agoura Hills, Calif.-based Buxbaum Group feels “The only thing we can count on is, we can’t count on anything,” Buxbaum observes. “Uncertainty is the watchword of the day.”

Reports that the luxury industry is in trouble is spreading like wildfire, prompting reporting about the economic slump of the luxury industry on Wall Street. According to Buxbaum both Wall Street and Main Street abhor uncertainty, he notes. Stressing consumers are going to be extremely careful with their purchases,” says the veteran retail consultant and analyst. “They want name brands or quality merchandise at a value price, and so chains that can offer them this — examples include Target, Kohl’s, TJX Cos., Aeropostale and Ross Dress For Less — will be clear winners moving forward.”

Buxbaum reveals shoppers opted not to splurge on luxury goods, but instead picked up low-cost staples at discount and warehouse club chains, “Same-store sales at Wal-Mart were up 6.1%, Costco’s rose 9% and BJ’s Wholesale posted a 16.5% increase. Although each benefited to some extent from rising gasoline prices at their fuel center operations, their stores alone still enjoyed healthy gains,” he expresses. “Meanwhile, at the luxury end of the spectrum, Neiman Marcus, whose customer has long been considered too wealthy to be affected by a slump, was among the companies posting a same-store sales decline, with its results dipping 2.4%.”

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