Two stories point to positive consumer spending figures in Asia, which are also getting help from tourist traffic. Luxury retailers and designers like Singapore-based F J Benjamin have turned around from US$2 million losses in 2009 to $6.2 million profit this year thanks to a growing market and increased movement of people around the region, many from China. It also hopes to move further into the Chinese home market with its purchase of a $500,000 stake in designer Arcangel/Catherine Deane and wants to double the number of locations selling the brand in the next few years. F cJ Benjamin says it’s looking closely at tourism; finding where most shoppers are coming from and marketing to build the brands there before they leave home.

Others say Singapore isn’t quite there yet; needing to improve its retail service standards to join the ranks of elite fashion cities. A Singapore Management University Institute of Excellence survey shows standards have improved only slightly, and the city ranks slightly behind Hong Kong and Beijing in its number of major fashion retailers. Singapore’s more efficient tax regime, however, has kept prices generally lower than its neighbors.

Meanwhile, Asian spending on home technology is also rising fast, with the consumer electronics industry growing 17% in value on last year. LCD TVs are in hottest demand, accounting for 60% of the market’s value (up 10% on last year) and reaching total sales of US$5.3 billion. Portable media players, camcorders and home audio systems accounted for the rest of the purchases, according to GfK Asia Pte Ltd research.

sources: Channel NewsAsia and Business Times