No one is safe in the age of the swine flu. Not even the chic people. Not even LVMH, the ever-profitable stalwart that has somehow managed to make money in this economy. Yesterday, shares in luxury-goods stocks were down across Europe, as new cases of swine flu were reported in Canada, France, New Zealand, Israel, and Britain. Among them, LVMH shares were down 2.9 percent, PPR shares were down 4.8 percent, and Bulgari shares were down 3.9 percent. Experts note that the flu could affect luxury-goods sales if international travel is restricted, since 20 percent of all luxury goods are purchased by travelers. Officials in the U.S. and U.K. are already advising against all nonessential travel to Mexico.
Already crippled by a seemingly ceaseless economic flogging, the luxury-goods industry will probably only have to brace for short-term battery from the swine flu. Experts assume swine flu will be like SARS, which is to say not "devastating," but "serious enough." We here at the Cut have devised a solution to combat a potential sales slump: the Pradas and Guccis and Diors and Louis Vuittons of the world should make face masks to actually sell in stores, especially duty-free shops in airports. Most of the runway face masks aren't winding up in Bergdorf. Now is the time, Marc and John, to dig them up from the archives and manufacture them en masse. The profit slumps from the economy are embarrassing enough. After that, what self-respecting luxury company succumbs to the pigs?