Baby boomers may remember that, in addition to the Radio City Rockettes and Rose Bowl Parade, one of the holiday traditions that Americans looked forward to was the annual fantasy Christmas gift sold by Neiman Marcus. The Neiman Marcus Christmas Book is celebrating its 87th year. The most fantastic of this year’s fantasy gifts is the 2014 Aston Martin Vanquish Volante. There are only ten of the V-12, 565-horsepower British automobiles in the world. If a Phoenician does not want to spend $344,500 for it, there are many other luxury gifts available in the Valley.
Luxury stores in Arizona were hit hard, just like most retail outlets, during the recession. Biltmore Fashion Park, in Phoenix, current home of Saks Fifth Avenue, was the original luxury shopping center in Arizona. In the 1990’s, it boasted most of the top retailers from Cartier to Louis Vuitton. The economic downturn, combined with other factors (e.g., the Biltmore is a rare, remaining outdoor mall; competition from other shopping areas) resulted in closures and relocations. But Biltmore has been renovated and reinvented; it now features a wide selection of upper-end restaurants (e.g., Christopher’s and Crush), and a selection of 18 independent boutiques in the Biltmore Union.
Scottsdale Fashion Square, further east on Camelback Road, has taken the mantle as the premier luxury mall in Arizona. This is where Phoenicians can check out some of the other items from Neiman Marcus Christmas book, as well as gifts from Nordstrom’s, the country’s largest Dillard’s, and over other 200 stores in Arizona’s largest mall. With the economic recovery, it is also one of the most profitable malls in the US. A big attraction of this mall are prominent, high-end, boutique retailers, like Swarovski, Salvatore Ferragamo, and Tiffany and Co, that visitors have read about in magazines, but would never get a chance to see in their hometowns.
The retailers there are anxious to show their wares for the holiday season. For instance, Bvlgari, had an exclusive reception on December 11, where the newest purses and watches were showcased for attendees, which included athletes and celebrities. If the Aston Martin does not appeal to you, maybe a limited edition, $240,000 watch from Switzerland does.
After a recession, the luxury market is usually the first to recover. Phoenicians can hope the pickup in luxury retail in the Valley is a precursor to an overall retail recovery this holiday season.