Shop Talk: When the going gets tough, the tough head to the spa
When the going gets tough, the tough head to the spa. Well, at least Shop Talk and some British bankers and hedge fund managers do.
Post-Brexit, London’s luxury spas have apparently seen a surge in wearied patrons in need of a good pummelling.
Confusion, uncertainty and a falling FTSE do many a knot make, after all.
A New York Times piece quoted the comms director at Brown’s hotel in Mayfair as saying that there had been a “considerable uptick in interest” for its 50-minute, Limoncel’toe Pedicure, “quite possibly from highly stressed individuals looking for a bit of respite from recent events”.
If you are so inclined, the £50 (R950) treatment, described as “zesty”, uses products rich in organic, natural, as well as active, Sicilian ingredients.
Let’s move along then, shall we?
More telling in the report, however, was that London-based beauty concierge and bookings app Ruuby said that in the weeks since the vote, it had seen a gain in at-home visits by therapists “with a 16% increase in after-midnight and early-morning appointments”.
Even in the face of economic ambivalence (and ridiculous leaders), consumers looking for a pick-up invest in themselves and indulge just a bit.
MasterCard does an annual treat index. The latest findings, perhaps contrary to popular belief, show that men spend more on treats for themselves, and treat themselves more often, than women.
London department store Selfridges has seen a similar trend occurring in store, with the opening of its new Men’s Personal Shopping area exceeding projections by over 30% to date — “proving men were more willing than ever to treat themselves”.
Other luxury treat items on the rise at Selfridges include Pierre Hermé macarons, champagne and truffle cheeses.
Millennials, MasterCard says, are nearly twice as likely (60%) as baby boomers (34%) to treat themselves once a month or more frequently.
This behaviour is essentially what the “Lipstick Index” is premised on.
The term was coined by one-time Estée Lauder chairman Leonard Lauder to describe an increase in sales of cosmetics during a recession — the theory being that women who have to forgo luxuries such as expensive dresses and shoes during economic slumps cheer themselves up by stocking up on affordable indulgences.
Now we know that Britain’s decision to leave the European Union has affected confidence.
And confidence is inextricably linked to spending. Already, data compiled by the British Retail Consortium and Springboard show that footfall in retail has declined the most since February 2014, largely on the EU referendum (and, to be fair, quite a wet summer).
Any protracted slowdown is likely to harm fashion and footwear players more than their grocery counterparts, because of import costs.
They buy more product abroad and pay in dollars. Consider the sharp fall in value of the pound — nearly 10%, which is rather lovely if you’re a high-rolling tourist looking for a Burberry trench coat or bespoke stationery from Smythson, but not so much if you’re a local.
Volatile exchange rates also mean margin impact is extraordinarily vague.
The big “R” is already being bandied about, with EY this week predicting that there are likely to be severe confidence effects on spending.
There have been signs of a return to some modicum of stability, but because the processes around trade and investment are still being managed, it only adds to a wholly uncertain economic situation.
This means bye bye big spender: pressing pause on high-ticket expenditure and going without pricier purchases.