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China's luxury market shrank 10% in 2022 - Bain

People visit the Sanya International Duty-Free shopping complex in Sanya

By Sophie Yu and Brenda Goh

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's luxury market contracted 10% in 2022 on the year, snapping a five-year streak of high growth, as Beijing's zero-COVID policy and a slowing economy hit spending, Bain & Company said in a report on Tuesday.

The luxury market grew 42% annually between 2019 and 2021 but its fortunes changed in 2022, after China doubled down on stamping out COVID-19 with city-wide lockdowns and a regulatory crackdown hit the property sector and fuelled unemployment.

The figure compared to growth of 1% between 2012 and 2016, and a 26% increase in sales between 2016 and 2019, Bain said.

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Mirroring recent results from the likes of French luxury goods group LVMH and Italy's Salvatore Ferragamo for 2022, Bain said all luxury categories were affected to varying degrees during the year.

While categories with high online penetration, such as luxury beauty, suffered single-digit declines, the watch market fell the most, with sales dropping 20% to 25% from 2021.

Fashion and lifestyle experienced a decline of 15% to 20%, while sales of jewellery and leather goods contracted 10% to 15%.

But Beijing's decision to dismantle the zero-COVID policy in early December is likely to bring back growth this year as mall traffic improves and consumer sentiment rebounds, Bain said.

"We expect to see 2021 sales levels sometime between the first and second half of 2023," said Weiwei Xing, a Hong Kong-based partner at Bain & Company.

"While optimism abounds, there are also risks. Brands need to resolve pricing gaps between China and Europe before international travel resumes," she said.

($1=6.7868 Chinese yuan renminbi)

(Reporting by Sophie Yu and Brenda Goh; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)