According to The Wall Street Journal, luxury clothier Barneys New York is planning to close two of its department stores. The Journal attributes this to a decline in upper-class spending, but the truth may be a little more complicated.
Barneys, like many other high-end retailers that have become prominent since the 1980s, primarily targets the über wealthy who can afford to regularly spend $160 on a tie, $60 on a T-shirt, or $255 on a pair of jeans. On the surface, this marketing plan has a great deal of merit; after all, the top one percent of the country is full of consistent consumers who are somewhat immune to recessions. Moreover, the basic trend of the past few years, when Barneys has really exploded, has been toward massive, consistent economic growth. Under these circumstances, it would seem that Barneys could look ahead to a bright, lucrative future.