Cartier, LVMH Anticipate Olympics Retail Boost Outside Paris

4 mins read

Luxury retailers across Europe are gearing up for an influx of affluent tourists during the Summer Olympics, anticipating that many will avoid the crowds and closures in Paris. Cartier and LVMH are among the brands betting on a surge in visitors to cities like London, Milan, and Barcelona.

“Paris will probably be slow,” Cartier CEO Cyril Vigneron remarked, suggesting that tourists might prefer less crowded cities during the Games, which run from July 26 to August 11. Van Cleef & Arpels CEO Nicolas Bos echoed this sentiment, stating that it might not be the best time for significant high jewellery events in Paris, though their stores will remain open for visiting sports enthusiasts.

Drawing from their experience during the 2012 London Olympics, Richemont-owned jewellery brands expect a similar trend, with many shoppers likely diverting their luxury spending to other European locations.

LVMH, the world’s largest luxury group and an Olympic sponsor, also anticipates a neutral impact overall, based on past events in London and Beijing. “It’s usually quite neutral – although it makes our lives a little bit more complicated when it comes to supplying products into our stores,” said LVMH CFO Jean Jacques Guiony.

A recent report by Paris 2024 highlighted a potential “crowding out” effect, where tourists might choose alternative destinations over Paris. This effect remains challenging to measure and predict, but the fashion industry is preparing for it. The Federation de la Haute Couture et de la Mode has moved its autumn 2024 haute couture shows forward to June 24 to avoid Olympic disruptions.

Some fashion labels are opting for showroom presentations in Milan due to the logistical difficulties posed by the Games, according to Carlo Capasa, chairman of Italy’s National Fashion Chamber.

In London, iconic stores like Harrods and Selfridges are preparing to capitalise on the situation. Harrods’ managing director, Michael Ward, anticipates a significant boost, particularly from Chinese tourists, who have already removed Paris from their itineraries this summer. Harrods plans to draw shoppers with special events, including the launch of a new Tiffany & Co. boutique and exclusive products like anniversary teddy bears from Bulgari and Charlotte Tilbury.

Selfridges is also ramping up its offerings with sporting events and an expanded range of sportswear products, aiming to attract both local and international visitors. “We are getting ready for a huge celebration of sport,” said CEO Andrew Keith.

Barcelona is promoting itself as a laid-back alternative to Paris’s Olympic hustle. Spain’s retail and food industry association, AECOC emphasised the country’s ability to offer a more relaxed leisure experience during the Games.

Travel data from the United States suggests that American tourists visiting the Olympics in Paris plan to extend their trips to other European destinations, including Spain, Germany, and Italy, according to travel agency eDreams.

Overall, while Paris braces for potential disruptions, luxury retailers across Europe are ready to seize the opportunity presented by the shifting tourist dynamics during the Summer Olympics.