Are China’s Wealthy Spending Less?

On CNBC, Shanghai-based market intelligence analyst and author Shaun Rein responds to a Wall Street Journal piece published earlier this month which argues that China’s wealthy are losing confidence and spending less, claiming that the piece wrongly defined China’s wealthy class and concluding that fears of a slowdown in China’s luxury segment are exaggerated:

To find out how China’s wealthy feel, one actually has to analyze wealthy people, not those in the middle. There are over one million people with more than $1 million in investable assets, and 271 billionaires, according to data from the Hurun Report.

Any analysis needs to look at that segment to determine the trends among wealthy consumers. My firm in the past two months interviewed several dozen people with more than one million dollars in investable assets, as well as a dozen people worth more than $10 million.

The results show the ultra rich, people worth more than $10 million, are actually getting richer and remain very confident about their earning ability and those worth more than one million dollars also reported being very confident. The vast majority reported that they planned to spend at the same or higher level in 2012. One businessman in the services sector in Shanghai told me, “The economic problems are serious but we expect profits to rise by 30 percent next year. Even if profits don’t go up, I plan on spending at the same levels or more.”

The Financial Times reported on Sunday that China has propped up the sales figures and stock prices of the world’s luxury retailers, from Hugo Boss to Burberry to Louis Vuitton, with analysts expecting the boom to continue as more big names charge in to offset stagnating sales figures at home. See also previous CDT coverage of the demand for luxury goods among China’s nouveau rich, including expensive cars and superyachts.