Wealthy shoppers have a new attitude that signals doom for Tiffany (TIF)

  • Tiffany & Co. has reported declining sales for six of the past seven quarters. 
  • Wealthy shoppers are increasingly turning into bargain hunters, which could be hurting Tiffany. 
  • People are also spending more on technology like Apple Watches, leaving less money for Tiffany's baubles. 

Costco was recently ordered to pay Tiffany $19 million for selling fake rings bearing the premium's jeweler's name. 

But as wealthy shoppers turn into bargain hunters, it's possible Tiffany could benefit from selling at Costco. 

Tiffany sales have declined for six of the last seven quarters. The brand has been hurt from an unwillingness to spend big bucks on jewelry.

Shoppers with lower incomes have been hunting bargains for years. They started gravitating toward discount retailers like TJ Maxx, Marshalls, and dollar stores during the recession, and many never went back to shopping full-price.

That has had a crippling effect on full-price department stores like Macy's, JCPenney, and Sears, which have been closing hundreds of stores in the face of falling traffic and sales.

Now America's wealthiest shoppers are embracing that habit, signaling trouble ahead for the US luxury market.

Wealthy shoppers are comparing prices among retailers on everything they buy, and their brand loyalty has plummeted.

Sales of personal luxury goods, such as designer clothing and accessories, fell 1% last year, marking the first decline since 2009, according to Bain & Company data cited by The Wall Street Journal.

tiffany jewelry salesMizohu Securities

The battle for dollars is also more intense than ever. 

Companies like Amazon are making it easier than ever for people to compare prices online by offering tools like barcode scanners, which customers can access through their smartphones and use in stores to easily check prices on specific items.

As shoppers increasingly spend on categories like technology, healthcare, and travel, jewelry is less of a priority. It's possible some customers chose to buy Apple Watches instead of Tiffany bracelets. 

Hayley Peterson contributed to this story. 

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