Wealthy shoppers boost Blue Nile, but earnings less than dazzling

Aug 5, 2011

Even as the stock market takes stomach turning plunges this week, it’s still good to be a luxury item retailer.

Seattle’s online diamond jeweler, Blue Nile, put out its second quarter earnings report on Thursday. And though the numbers aren’t dazzling, they’re still on the rise.

Blue Nile's earnings fell short of market estimates, but they still managed to  increase sales despite a spike in diamond and metal prices.

Net sales were up about 5 percent over last quarter, with much of its sales growth in non-engagement jewelry.

In fact, company CEO Diane Irvine  said sales around the Mother's Day holiday were the highest to date.

Irvine said another huge boost for the company was its international sales. Those were up more than 40 percent in the quarter. But the biggest gains in sales growth came from the online company's wealthiest customers.

"We experienced relative strength during the quarter at price points above $10,000 with the highest growth at price points above $25,000."

This is true across most luxury spending. Unlike average consumers who are still on the hunt for bargains, spending among high-end shoppers is on the rise. And that’s good for everyone according to some analysts. The top 20 percent of income earners accounts for nearly 60 percent of spending.

But the trend on this has been tied to the recovery of the stock market. Now, with the recent dramatic dip even the rich may start looking for discounts.