The aspirational upper-middle-class customer who helped companies like Coach and Saks post double-digit growth in the past few years has disappeared due to the current rotten economy, writes BusinessWeek. The result: luxury goods companies that expanded their product lines to appeal to the not-quite-rich now have $150 purses and nobody to buy them. Coach went so far as to offer coupons recently “to drum up sales.”
Take Tricia Ehrlich, a 38-year-old mother of three in East Setauket, N.Y., who runs her own online boutique. Ehrlich has a soft spot for classy jackets and matching shoes; in November, she spent $300 on a Perry Ellis black shearling textured jacket and bought a black suede Coach bag for $250. But Ehrlich has shelved plans to make a purchase this winter. “I’ll probably hold off until spring. We spent a lot on refurbishing our house last year, and I know we’re not going to reap the benefit of that, so the last thing I need right now is another jacket,” says Ehrlich.