A snapshot of how the recession is affecting Britain’s upper classes has been revealed for the very first time.
It shows that while the very, very rich remain relatively unaffected, the pinch is being felt by the next tier down – the merely wealthy but aspirational well-to-do.
The study, by online marketplace, the eBay Outlet, shows that shoppers from many previously comfortably-off areas are now using the site to discreetly buy cut price top quality clothes as they struggle to keep up appearances.
Demand for timeless, high quality items, such as handbags, black dresses, coats and shoes – the mainstay of every high fashion wardrobe - has soared, in some cases, by over 300 per cent.
Said Ruth Szyszkowski, spokesperson for the eBay Outlet: “We’re seeing the emergence of a new breed of reduced wealth shoppers. They’re people who still want to go to all of the leading social occasions looking like a million dollars - but at a quarter of the price.
“Many attending Ascot and Henley this year will have paid up to 70 per cent less for their stunning outfits than the person standing next to them.
“They’re still flaunting the labels – but keeping the price tag hidden.”
The eBay Fashion Outlet – www.ebay.co.uk/outlet brings savvy shoppers amazing discounts on new items, direct from some of the UK’s favourite high street names and brands, including Karen Millen, Superdry, House of Fraser, Kookai, Schuh and Ted Baker. And some brands, including Office, offer new in season items that are bought exclusively for sale on the Outlet at heavily discounted prices.
The study analysed the increasing number of people using the site who live in post codes which have some of the most expensive houses in the UK.
Purchases of top quality clothing on the site from areas where the very richest people live – Belgravia, Knightsbridge and Chelsea - have remained relatively unchanged since the recession started two years ago.
This suggests that the shopping habits of those who measure their wealth in hundreds of millions of pounds has remained relatively unchanged by the economic downturn. They still continue to buy directly from the big names in designer wear.
However, the picture changes significantly in the next tier down, in areas where people have previously measured their wealth in mere millions.
Over the past two years, demand for top quality dresses, coats, handbags and lingerie from these areas has surged.
The trend has emerged most strongly in affluent but second tier areas of London including Fulham, Wandsworth, Clapham, and Putney. All are popular with once assured high earners such as stockbrokers, architects and company owners, many of whom have been hit hard by the economy.
Wealthy areas outside London are also showing the same trend. Alderley Edge – home to some of the UK’s best paid footballers – as well as expensive areas of Leeds, Edinburgh, Belfast, Morpeth and Cardiff have all recorded increased activity.
Said Ruth Szyszkowski, spokesperson for the eBay Outlet: “Many of these people would previously have paid full price for their clothes from some of the most expensive retailers in the UK. Now, they need to shop on a budget.
“Our figures suggest that the only people in Britain to remain unaffected by the recession are the billionaires .
“Everyone else, including mere millionaires, is having to find new ways to continue to look fashionable for a fraction of the cost.
“It’s easy to see why the trend is becoming so popular. With many Ascot goers spending up to £2,000 pounds on their outfits, buying an equivalent style on the eBay Outlet could save up to £1,400 – the equivalent of a free day out.”
Wealthy postcode areas showing the greatest increase in the eBay Outlet activity include:
Clapham, SW4 : up 339 per cent. Homes costs up to £2.2 million.
Leeds, LS17 : up 327 per cent. Homes cost up to £1.5 million.
Fulham, SW6 : up 233 per cent. Homes cost up to £4.9 million.
Hampstead, NW3 : up 233 per cent. Homes cost up to £11million.
Putney, SW 15 : up 205 per cent. Homes cost up to £4.9 million.
Cardiff, CF23 : up 193 per cent. Homes cost up to £1.7 million
Belfast, BT9 : up 182 per cent. Homes cost up to £1.4 million.
Morpeth, NE 65 : up 136 per cent. Homes cost up to £1.6 million.
Alderley Edge, SK9 : up 129 per cent. Homes cost up to £3 million.
Edinburgh, EH14 : up 110 per cent. Homes cost up to £2.3 million.
Kensington, SW7 : 9 per cent. Homes cost up to £37 million.
Knightsbridge, SW1 : No increase. Homes cost up to £47 million.
Belgravia. SW1: No increase. Homes cost up to £140 million.
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