Tourism Sales Off from ’09

NEW YORK — Although New York is seeing an influx of European tourists this month, most retailers are not experiencing the sales boom they had last summer.

“Tourism is high, but it certainly hasn’t impacted my sales,” said Roz Ziemeister, owner of Shoofly. “New York retailers are feeling the impact” because the euro is not as strong as a year earlier.

At press time, the exchange rate was $1.26 per euro, compared with $1.43 a year ago.

“They’re very price driven,” said Lester Wasserman, owner of West. “We had a lot more tourist customers shopping last summer, but that might just be because we didn’t have a lot of American shoppers coming in and we had to focus on new ones.”

Randy Ochart, owner of French Sole Comfort, has been trying to draw customers in with special sales.

“Most Europeans are not used to seeing a promotion every week, so that’s something we tried to do to get customers inside the store,” Ochart said. The store hosted a sample sale and resort sale in the month of August, which helped spur a small uptick.

Edna Galo, owner of Galo Shoes, agreed. “European consumers take advantage of the markdowns and they like to take advantage of the euro,” she said, adding that customers were snapping up comfort shoes that were on sale or on clearance.

“[Tourists] are buying brands such as Aquatalia and Andre Assous, which are styled for Americans but are not found in Europe,” Galo said. “Comfort is key for Europeans because styling in Europe is [not as big of a focus] as it is in the States.”

While many stores are reporting mixed overall results, at least one retailer has had a robust business this summer, despite the strengthening dollar.

High-end designer store Chuckies New York is seeing significantly better sales from European travelers compared with last year, according to owner Richard Erani.

“When the euro was stronger last year, European [shoppers in our store] were a lot pickier,” said Erani. “They came in thinking that the U.S. economy was worse than it really was and weren’t willing to pay [marked-down] prices.”

Erani added that he planned his business carefully this summer, buying deeper into select styles in order to drive sales. He also started off the month with 30 percent to 50 percent markdowns.

Styles by Lanvin and Yves Saint Laurent have been popular among Europeans, Erani said.

“Tourists are surprisingly going for the high-end European brands,” he said. “I don’t think it has anything to do with if they can only find it here or not — high fashion translates worldwide.”

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