French luxury brand Chanel will hike prices here for the fifth time in a year despite the steadily strengthening won.
Industry insiders say Chanel will hike the prices of some products like handbags and shoes by about 11 percent in all stores and duty-free shops in Korea on May 15.
Chanel already raised the prices of some products in duty-free shops by about four percent in May last year and by another 17 percent in September. In November, some handbag prices rose five-13 percent, while in January this year cosmetics came with higher price tags -- a 2.4 percent increase on average.
Chanel Korea says the price hikes were its headquarter's decision, but a staffer at a department store said, "The company always seems to increase the prices of popular products ahead of the wedding season."
Fellow French bling label Louis Vuitton also hiked prices by some five percent in November last year and then again in February and in March.
A survey shows that luxury products here now cost one-and-a-half times what they cost in France. According to a report by French bank BNP Paribas last year, if the average international price of major luxury brands is set at 1, the price is 1.14 in Korea, the second highest after China, but only 0.78 in France.
"Raising prices five times in a year means that the company thinks Korean customers are easy to handle," said a staffer in a duty-free shop. "After all, they can only do it because customers are still buying."
Luxury goods often dodge normal market rules, becoming more desirable to customers the more expensive they get.