By SUZANNE KAPNER and CHRISTINA PASSARIELLO for The WALL STREET JOURNAL
Despite expanding into new markets, the luxury-retail business has been relying on price increases to drive sales. Now, even the very wealthy are nearing the limits of what they are willing to spend.
In the past five years, the price of a Chanel quilted handbag has increased 70% to $4,900. Cartier's Trinity gold bracelet now sells for $16,300, 48% more than in 2009. And the price of Piaget's ultrathin Altiplano watch is now $19,000, up $6,000 from 2011.
Such increases for some of the world's most expensive indulgences far outpace inflation and contrast with the middle and lower end of the retail market, where even small increases can turn off shoppers.